People Are Selling Their Cars and Using Lyft Instead

Photo credit: Kārlis Dambrāns, CC BY 2.0.

I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to buy a car, now that I’ve moved to Cedar Rapids. I haven’t needed one yet; between walking, public transportation, and Lyft, I’ve been able to get pretty much anywhere in the city.

(The real question is what I’ll do when I need to get outside of the city. My “rent a car for a single day” plan could potentially be an option, although I won’t really be able to make that decision until the weather gets warm enough that I can sign up for some driving lessons.)

But back to Lyft, because the whole “using Lyft instead of owning a car” thing is apparently a trend. As Slate reports:

The company also says it made major headway on one of its primary goals: reducing vehicle ownership. According to its report, 250,000 Lyft users abandoned vehicle ownership in favor of ride-sharing, and half of its users reported driving less frequently now.

Slate is referring to Lyft’s latest Economic Impact Report, which contains a lot of really interesting data: seniors are using Lyft to access medical services, people with disabilities are using Lyft to increase their mobility; Lyft passengers who elected to “Round Up and Donate” gave $3 million to various charities and causes.

Plus a good quarter million of us gave up car ownership, and I’d bet just as many people elected not to buy a car because they knew they could use Lyft instead.

I don’t have a problem with a world in which more people use Lyft for transportation than own cars. I do have a bit of an issue with a world in which a small number of people have to take on the full responsibility of car ownership in order to contract for a third-party car service. Cars are not cheap, after all, and we have plenty of first-person narratives to prove it.

But Lyft claims that driver earnings doubled in 2017: $3.6 billion before tips. They don’t provide any information on earnings per driver, though, and that would be a good way to determine whether Lyft is good for everybody, or just for the people who want to forego car ownership because they can ride in someone else’s.

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