Lyft is expanding in a big way.
The app-based transportation startup today launched its service in 24 cities at once, making it the biggest rides-on-demand platform in the U.S. (UberX is in 47 cities).
Lyft has been growing like crazy in the last 18 months. It started 2013 in San Francisco and grew to 20 cities at the beginning of 2014. As of today, though, the service is available in 60 locations.
The company, which announced a $250 million Series D round earlier this month, also today lowered its prices for riders by 10 percent. This is on top of a 20 percent cut that Lyft implemented on April 7 and a new “Happy Hour” program that discounts ride fees when demand drops.
The 24 new cities, which range from Spokane, Wash., to Buffalo, New York, all have “strong community roots,” according to Lyft, which has also temporarily stopped taking commission from drivers. Riders in the new locations can take free Lyft rides for two weeks, starting today.
“The individual cities have strong community roots, and include hubs of tech, innovation, entrepreneurialism, tourism, hospitality, progressivism and local pride that enable them all to benefit from a platform like Lyft,” Lyft spokesperson Paige Thelen told us. “Many residents of these cities rely heavily on their own cars to get around town, and we wanted them to have an opportunity to leave their cars at home – or to give rides to their neighbors and put their empty seats to new use.”
As it has in other cities, Lyft should no doubt expect pushback from local officials in at least a few of the new markets. The Nebraska Public Service Commission already warned Lyft not to operate in the state — Lincoln and Omaha are two new Lyft cities — and meanwhile, city government in other places like St. Louis and Madison have begun cracking down on Lyft.
“We look forward to working with local officials in these new communities as we have worked with leaders in other cities and states across the country,” Thelen said.
In Seattle, Lyft recently contributed $205,108 to a coalition group that just submitted enough petition signatures to suspend a newly-passed ordinance regulating transportation companies like Lyft and UberX. Mayor Ed Murray is now trying to reach a new agreement between the startups and taxi drivers, but if nothing is on the table by the end May, Murray said he’ll issue a cease-and-desist letter to Lyft, UberX and Sidecar.
Lyft’s biggest competition is UberX, which reduced its prices by up to 34 percent in 16 cities back in January but also added a $1 “Safe Rides Fee” earlier this month — Lyft has a similar $1 fee for “Trust & Safety” — and reinstated the 20 percent commission fee it takes from drivers.
Out of the 24 new markets that Lyft is entering today, Uber is only in eight. And while Uber is still operating in more locations worldwide — Lyft has yet to expand internationally, but intends to — Lyft is now available in more U.S. cities.
Here’s the full list of Lyft’s new cities:
- Ann Arbor
- Colorado Springs
- Corpus Christi
- Fairfield County & New Haven
- Kansas City
- North Jersey
- Oklahoma City
- Raleigh Durham
- San Bernardino
- Virginia Beach