Lyft is getting serious about replacing privately-owned cars. Beginning in August, the ride-hailing company will offer 100 Chicago residents $550 to ditch their personal cars for a month. The money will come in the form of credits for Lyft and other mobility services.
Chicagoans who accept Lyft's offer will get a $300 credit for carpool rides such as Lyft Line. They will also get a $45 one-month Divvy bike-sharing pass, a $100 Zipcar car-sharing credit, and $105 for public transit, including subways and buses.
Anyone interested in the offer must prove they own a car in order to qualify, David Katcher, Lyft's general manager for the Midwest, said in an interview with The Verge. When it comes to ensuring that participants actually ditch their cars, Katcher said Lyft will rely on the honor system. The company will conduct interviews before and after the monthlong challenge to gain customer feedback and, naturally, customers will be encouraged to post about their experiences on social media.
Katcher told The Verge that Lyft will follow up the Chicago challenge with an expanded version in Portland, Oregon, in which Rose City residents will be asked to abandon their cars for an entire year. Lyft is also reportedly planning to offer discounts to riders that use public transit like scooter and bike-sharing services as part of its application to start a scooter-sharing service in San Francisco.
Both Lyft and its much larger rival, Uber, are expanding beyond ride-hailing in an effort to become one-stop shops for urban transportation. Lyft recently bought bike-sharing giant Motivate, giving it control of operations like New York's CitiBike. The company has also discussed plans to link its services more closely with public transit. Uber owns a much smaller bike-sharing company, Jump, and is investing in bike and scooter-sharing startup Lime.
This multi-modal approach will likely be necessary in order for Lyft and Uber to expand without choking cities to death with traffic. A recent report found that even carpool services like Lyft Line and UberPool can increase urban traffic congestion, in part because they draw people away from public transit. Ride hailing is still central to Lyft and Uber's business, but adopting other transportation modes is crucial to maintaining a sense of social responsibility.