As Uber takes steps to recover from a string of allegations that called its corporate ethics into question, competing ride-share service Lyft is anxious to establish itself as a viable Uber rival, CNBC reports.
Thursday, Lyft nearly tripled its coverage across the U.S., adding 160 cities—for a total of 350—and 32 states for a total of 40. 94 percent of Americans, the company says, can now hail a Lyft ride in minutes.
The company claims to cover more of the US than any other ride-share service, including Uber.
Uber offers service in about 150 US cities. There are holes in Uber’s coverage across the Southeast—the company offers no service in Arkansas, Mississippi, or West Virginia—and the Northeast—Uber rides are not available in Delaware, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, or Washington, D.C. Uber does not operate in Alaska.
Lyft, by comparison, now serves nine cities in New Jersey, four in New Hampshire, one in Delaware (the state’s capital of Dover), five in Maine, six in West Virginia, and six in Alaska.
Unlike Uber, Lyft lacks service in South Dakota. Neither company serves Arkansas or Mississippi.
Lyft remains well behind Uber in terms of capital, ridership, and breadth of service, CNBC notes. Uber gives 10 million rides per day across more than 80 countries around the globe. Lyft, which operates in the US exclusively, reached one million rides per day in early July.
Since it began in 2009, Uber has raised $14 billion in capital. Lyft, which launched in 2012, has accrued $2.6 billion worth of capital.
But, the gulf between the two companies is narrowing, CNBC notes. Lyft gave more rides in the first half of 2017 than in all of 2016. The company’s share of the US ride-hailing market has jumped from 12 percent to 30 percent over the past two years.
CNBC says Uber continues to grow its ridership, but Business Insider reported in June that Uber’s growth—in revenue as well as in ridership—slowed in the first quarter of this year. Uber, privately held, rarely publishes ridership statistics or financial data.
“We’ve always been the underdog in the race against Uber. We’ve taken a lot of ground. We still are,” Green told CNBC.
Amidst Uber’s many scandals, Lyft is making an effort to double down on its friendly, wholesome public image.
“As we get service levels to parity and pickup times are equal, people prefer using Lyft,” said Green, per CNBC. ”They like that we treat our drivers better. They like that we treat our customers better. And they like that we have a brand that sort of stands for taking care of people, where Uber has done a lot to build the opposite type of brand.”
CNBC spoke to two drivers who each work for both Uber and Lyft in New York City: Syed Manzar and Karim Guernah. Both noticed a change in customers’ attitudes after news broke of Uber’s various scandals.
Nick Raif, who uses Uber and Lyft to hail rides in the Chicago area, told CNBC the unflattering news concerning Uber sometimes prompted him to use Lyft instead. The two companies provide comparable coverage around Chicago, he said.
Raef said he found himself willing to pay an extra dollar or two for Lyft on days when the news surrounding Uber particularly disturbed him.
But, Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research contends per CNBC that moral considerations are of secondary importance to most customers.
“It is so tempting to think Lyft is gaining because people are taking a stand against Uber, but convenience usually trumps morality,” he said.
Uber is making an effort to repair its public image, as well as its relationship with its drivers. In July, the company launched an initiative dubbed “180 days of change.” As part of the effort, Uber aims to increase driver compensation, to offer drivers more flexibility, and to offer better support for drivers in the event of emergencies like accidents or passenger violence
The company, according to CNBC, has hired thousands of drivers to help ease each individual’s work load and has for the first time allowed customers to tip drivers using the app. (Lyft’s app has long afforded customers that ability).
Uber is also regaining stability in its corporate leadership. Tuesday, the company announced that it had at last hired a permanent CEO: Dara Khosrowshahi, who had served as Expedia’s CEO since 2005.
Featured Image via Flickr/Alfredo Mendez