Doing the Math on the New Lyft Pass

Is paying $20 in advance for less expensive rides a smart move?

Photo credit: Daniel X. O’Neil, CC BY 2.0.

Late Friday night, I got an email from Lyft: “Ride for $12 or less, all month long.” This deal, available to Lyft users in DC, Philadelphia, and Seattle, works as follows:

  1. You pay $20 up front to get access to “the pass.”
  2. At that point, the first 20 “regular” Lyft rides you take between March 1–31 will be capped at $12, not including tips paid to the driver.
  3. If your ride costs more than $25, you pay $12 plus the amount over $25. So, if your ride cost $40, you’d pay $27 ($12 plus the $15 difference between $25 and $40), as well as the tip to the driver.

Is this Lyft pass worth it? My initial assumption is that Lyft must be banking on people paying the $20 fee and then not taking enough rides to balance out the cost of the pass. (That’s how these kinds of things always work, right?)

But I’m not the kind of person to pay a $20 fee and then not maximize my Lyft experience. So let’s do the math and figure out whether I’m going to come out ahead if I grab this pass.

Here are the trips I’m planning to take via Lyft in March. All costs are pre-tip.

  • I’ll take a Lyft to the airport before my JoCo Cruise trip, and another Lyft back to my apartment when I return. This trip costs roughly $45 each way.
  • I have three meetings on the schedule for March that will involve Lyft rides: one to visit my CPA, one to get my hair cut, and one to meet with a freelance client. It costs me $11 each way to visit my CPA and get my hair cut, and $21 each way to visit the client.

Using these figures, my total Lyft costs for March can be estimated as $45+$45+$11+$11+$11+$11+$21+$21, or $176. (Still cheaper than owning a car.)

If I got the Lyft pass, I’d pay $20 up front. The four $11 trips would cost the same. The two $21 trips would drop down to $12. The two $45 trips would cost $32 each, and my new math would be:

$20+$32+$32+$11+$11+$11+$11+$12+$12, or $152.

Okay. It does look like the Lyft pass, even with the $20 cost and even though half of the trips I plan to take in March fall under the $12 threshold, will save me money.

Anyone else in the Seattle, Washington DC, or Philadelphia areas want to do the math on their upcoming Lyft trips?

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