Passengers can then request a ride from a nearby driver. Once confirmed, the app shows the driver's name, ratings by past passengers, and photos of the driver and car. Drivers and passengers can add personal information to their profiles about their hometown, music preferences, and other details to encourage drivers and passengers to converse during the ride. After the ride is over, the rider is given the opportunity to provide a tip to the driver, which is also billed to the rider's payment method.
Lyft offers five types of rides within the app:
Shared Ride, which is not available in all cities, is the cheapest option and will match passengers with other riders if they are going in the same direction.
Lyft is the basic and most popular offering that matches passengers with nearby drivers.
Lyft XL matches passengers with a vehicle that can seat at least 6 passengers.
Lux matches passengers with a luxury vehicle that seats at least 4 passengers.
Lux Black matches passengers with a luxury black exterior vehicle ride that seats at least four passengers.
Lux Black XL matches passengers with a black exterior luxury car that seats up to 6. (i.e.: SUVs with highly rated drivers).
Lyft scooters cost USD$1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute to ride.
After a ride is completed, drivers and passengers are given the opportunity to rate each other on a scale of one to five stars. Any driver averaging a low rating by a passenger will not be matched with that passenger again. Lyft does not allow passengers to know their rating. The ratings establish the reputations of both drivers and passengers within the network.
Although Lyft drivers are classified as independent contractors, Lyft also insures each driver with a US$1 million commercial liability policy that is primary to a driver's personal policy. Additional coverage includes:
Contingent comprehensive and collision coverage up to $50,000 with a $2,500 deductible. It applies from the time a driver accepts a ride request until the time the ride is ended in the app.
Contingent liability coverage up to $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident/$25,000 property damage. It applies from the time when a driver flips into driver mode until the driver accepts a ride request.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that comply with local regulations and/or state laws. It applies from the time a driver accepts a ride request in the app until the time the ride is ended in the app.
A Lyft vehicle in Santa Monica, California, with the original grill-stache branding, since retired
Green had the inspiration for Zimride after sharing rides from the University of California, Santa Barbara campus to visit his girlfriend in Los Angeles. He had used Craigslist's ride boards but wanted to eliminate the anxiety of not knowing the passenger or driver. When Facebook opened its API to third-party developers, Green said he thought "Here's the missing ingredient." Zimride linked drivers and passengers through the Facebook Connect application. By using Facebook profile information, student drivers and passengers could learn about each other. Zimride eventually became the largest carpool company in the United States. Green was introduced to John Zimmer through a mutual friend and the pair initially met on Facebook. The company name came from the country Zimbabwe, where, during a trip in 2005, Green observed locals sharing minivan taxis. Zimride launched at Cornell University, where, after six months, the service had signed up 20% of the campus.
In May 2013, the company officially changed its name from Zimride to Lyft. The change from Zimride to Lyft was the result of a hackathon that sought a means of daily engagement with its users, instead of once or twice a year.
Whereas Zimride was focused on college campuses, Lyft launched as a TNC for shorter trips within cities.
Lyft became known for the large pink furry mustaches drivers attached to the front of their cars. Riders were also encouraged to sit in the front seat and fist bump with drivers upon meeting. In November 2014, the company distanced itself from the fist bump.
In January 2015, Lyft introduced a small, glowing plastic dashboard mustache it called a "glowstache" as an alternative to the large fuzzy mustaches on the front of cars. The transition was to help overcome the resistance of some riders to arrive at destinations, such as business meetings, in a car with a giant mustache.
In December 2016, Lyft introduced a color-changing dashboard indicator called "Amp."
In April 2014, Lyft launched in 24 new U.S. cities in 24 hours, bringing its total to 60 U.S. cities.
In April 2014, Lyft hired two lobbying firms, TwinLogic Strategies and Jochum Shore & Trossevin, to address the regulatory barriers and opposition it had received since its launch.
Due to regulatory hurdles in New York City, the company altered its business model when establishing Lyft on the East Coast of the United States. Lyft's launch in New York City occurred on the evening of July 25, 2014 and, in accordance with the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and the approval of the Manhattan Supreme Court, only drivers registered with the TLC were permitted to drive Lyft-branded vehicles in New York City.
In August 2014, the company introduced a shared ride concept, which provides cheaper fares.
In September 2015, Lyft announced a relocation of its customer service operations to Nashville and mentioned that a full relocation would be possible in the future from San Francisco.
In December 2015, Lyft became the first TNC allowed to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport.
In May 2016, Lyft began offering a service to let clients schedule rides up to 24-hours in advance.
In November 2016, Lyft began offering riders the ability to make multiple stops during a trip.
In January 2017, the company announced its 160 millionth ride.
In January 2017, Lyft announced it would add 100 U.S. cities, bringing its total to 300 U.S. cities served.
In July 2017, the company announced that the Walt Disney World Resort "Minnie Van" service will be powered by Lyft. Users staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels are given the option to hail a "Minnie Van" via the Lyft app. A Minnie Van, a Chevrolet Traverse with Minnie Mouse inspired exterior theming, driven by a Walt Disney World Cast Member can take guests to and from any destination within the Walt Disney World Resort for a flat fee of $20 per ride. Lyft Founder John Zimmer said of the partnership "Playing a part in a family's experience at the most magical place on earth is a dream come true."
In March 2018, Lyft partnered with Allscripts to create a platform allowing healthcare providers to arrange rides for patients who lack transportation to appointments. The service would be available to 2,500 hospitals, 180,000 physicians, and approximately 7 million patients.
On September 6, 2018, Lyft launched a fleet of electric scooters in Denver.
On March 29, 2019, Lyft became a public company via an initial public offering at a price of $72.00 per share, establishing them as the first ride-sharing company to go public. The company set aside some shares to be given to long-time drivers.
In July 2019, the company's Lyft Entertainment division received an Emmy nomination for its co-production of Billy on the Street.
In 2014, the company grew ride numbers and revenue fivefold.
According to Bloomberg L.P., Lyft lost $600 million in 2016 while increasing its revenue 250% for the year.
Unwanted text messages
In November 2018, Lyft settled a class action suit filed in 2014 alleging that the company had sent large numbers of unwanted commercial text messages. In addition to $4 million in payments to consumers, the plaintiffs sought $1 million in legal fees.
Self-driving car research
As early as 2012, Green wanted to pitch investors on self-driving cars as part of Lyft's future offering. Green envisioned a few big networks of self-driving cars, similar to AT&T and Verizon.
On June 6, 2017, Lyft announced a new partnership with Boston-based autonomous self-driving car start-up NuTonomy with the aim of eventually putting thousands of autonomous, on-demand vehicles on the road.
In March 2018, Lyft announced a partnership with GoMentum Station to test its self-driving technology, furthering the company's efforts toward making transportation safer and more accessible.
On March 14, 2018, Lyft partnered with the largest auto part suppliers in North America, Magna International, with the motive to co-fund, develop, and manufacture autonomous vehicle systems which will help to produce self driving technology that will be available to all car manufacturers.
By August 2018, Lyft completed 5,000 rides using self driving cars in Las Vegas.
In October 2018, Lyft acquired Blue Vision Labs, a London-based augmented reality startup, for an initial $72 million price. This expertise is expected to help autonomous cars to extract useful information from street-level images.
Lyft drivers can decorate the interior of their vehicles to a certain extent. Here Lego figures are on display.