Lyft Expects to Spend $100 Million on Expanded Driver 'Hubs'

The centers will offer oil changes and clean bathrooms for drivers.

As independent contractors, drivers for ride-hailing services shoulder all of the cost of doing their jobs. Vehicle maintenance, in particular, can take a major chunk out of their earnings. Lyft is trying to address that by opening dedicated driver "hubs," which will offer discounted oil changes and other basic maintenance, as well as clean bathrooms, according to the company.

Lyft will spend $100 million on the effort. It will start by doubling the operational hours of its current 15 driver-support centers. Right now, these centers are open 35 to 40 hours a week, but Lyft wants to expand that to 70 hours a week. It also plans to build 30 brand new centers, according to The Verge.

The driver hubs will offer oil changes and basic maintenance "at a heavy discount," Lyft COO Jon McNeill said in a blog post, as well as charging stations for electric cars. Drivers will also be able to rent cars, get information on filing taxes, and receive career support. Communal areas will offer "coffee and refreshments" as well as "clean bathrooms" and "comfortable spots to rest," McNeill said.

"We're not doing 180 days of change," McNeill said, in reference to Uber's six-month effort last year to improve relations with its drivers. "Lyft has committed to drivers since our beginning."

Lyft has pitched itself as the socially-conscious alternative to Uber. That approach served it well in 2017, when Uber was swamped by scandals. But more recently, Uber has tried to clean up its act by redesigning its app and offering more driver support services. A driver-support arms race could be exactly what the ride-hailing industry needs.

Because drivers are independent contractors, they lack benefits and are forced to put a lot of their own money into the job. That may be acceptable for the many drivers that, as Uber and Lyft are quick to note, do not use driving as their primary source of income. But the situation is not good for drivers who rely more heavily on their ride-hailing income, and those drivers will likely be essential as ride-hailing companies continue to grow their services.