Lyft May Offer Discounts to People Who Use Bikes and Electric Scooters

The company also wants to connect its services to public transit.

Getty Images / Christian Heeb

Lyft recently bought Motivate, which runs New York City's CitiBike and Ford's San Francisco GoBike bike-sharing programs, among others. The ride-hailing company has also applied for a license to rent electric scooters in San Francisco. To ensure people actually use those services, Lyft may introduce discounts and incentives for bike-sharing and e-scooter-sharing.

In its application for a permit to operate bike and electric scooter-sharing services in San Francisco, Lyft discussed offering up to a 100-percent discount on trips that start or end at public-transit stops, according to The Verge. The discounts may be an attempt to win over San Francisco regulators, but Lyft's newfound emphasis on two-wheeled transportation could see discounts offered elsewhere.

In a Medium post, Lyft executives said they want to take 1 million cars off the road by 2019 through a combination of ride-hailing, and bike and e-scooter-sharing, and tweaks to the Lyft app that encourage people to use public transit. Lyft discussed greater public transit integration in changes to its app announced last month. While that has been slow to roll out, Lyft plans to emphasize public transit going forward.

"Soon you will be able to get real-time transit information, plan a multi-modal trip, and use Lyft Bikes and Scooters to connect to a local stop or shared ride [pick up] location," Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green wrote. "Shared ride" refers to carpool services that place more than one passenger in the same vehicle. Lyft and rival Uber have tried to build up these services, but drivers and passengers have been less enthusiastic.

Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are very convenient, but they may not be very effective in removing cars from city streets. A recent stud found that ride-hailing services are putting more cars on the road in Boston during peak times, because commuters are using those services instead of public transit. While bike-sharing and e-scooter-sharing are proving popular, a similar issue may arise when they are placed alongside ride-hailing in the same app.

Lyft is stressing a multi-modal approach, in which people use a combination of ride-hailing, bike or e-scooter-sharing, and public transit to complete a trip. But many people use ride-hailing door-to-door, and it's unclear if they will readily switch to a multi-modal model. Because while multi-modal transportation makes sense in terms of traffic and emissions reductions, it's also less convenient than simply getting in a car and heading directly to your destination.