By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin student writer
On Dec. 8, the Lewis Center hosted a presentation about ridesharing transportation services based on smartphone technology and “access over ownership.” The Center invited Emily Castor, the director of Community Relations at Lyft, to speak about implications for policy and planning as these services begin to increase in density.
Over the last 2.5 years, Lyft has provided over 10 million rides and has affected mobility in several ways. Castor said these services can promote a car-free lifestyle and provide transportation options in underserved areas.
Despite some ideas that Lyft is only available in high socioeconomic neighborhoods, Castor discussed the different ride sharing features Lyft offers and its reliability different areas regardless of socioeconomic profile.
She also provided insight into the new industry’s development and how it will impact consumer behavior. For instance, people’s sensitivity to price presents the potential for systems that allow people going the same direction to share a ride. Adopting this feature in high density areas can reduce the cost for consumers up to 60% and benefit drivers who earn more per ride, she said. These features, such as the Lyft Line system, have already launched in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
“The more people adopt this service, the better match rates customers get,” Castor said.
Though these services and features have much potential for mobility in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, there are questions remaining about successfully implementing and evolving them. For instance, Lyft’s upcoming launch of incidental carpooling will allow drivers to filter customers to focus on the driver’s designation. However, it is likely this would work best when there are events happening in the area.
“For carpooling to be mainstream, it needs to be flexible, reliable, quick, trustworthy and lucrative,” she said.
Public Policy student Begoña Guereca contributed to this report.