Lyft has released its 2017 Economic Impact Study report which seems to tout the benefits of having the service around. In a survey of more than 38,000 passengers and 15,000 drivers in 20 major U.S. cities this year, the on-demand ride service said it has helped to put back $750 million into the local economy. And that’s not all, it has cut down the commute time for riders, saving them 26 million hours in 2016.
The release of these findings is an effort by Lyft to show regulators and local opposition activists why the company should continue to operate unimpeded.
Conducted by Bill Lee and Tanya Chiranakhon from the Land Econ Group, Lyft’s Economic Impact Study also highlights drivers receiving $1.5 billion in earnings, including $100 million in tips this year. More than a quarter of rides start in underserved areas, which in some communities is a big deal as taxis have gained a reputation of skipping these neighborhoods — of course, there have also been similar allegations levied at Lyft and its main U.S. competitor Uber.
Not surprisingly, one of the main use cases of Lyft is getting to and from a restaurant or entertainment venue (74 percent); while getting to non-public transit-friendly areas (47 percent), and work commutes (39 percent), round out the top three. 60 percent of those surveyed indicated that they own a vehicle, but 56 percent of that group said they use their car less because of Lyft.
Drivers on the service are predominantly male (73 percent) while 66 percent affiliate themselves with a minority group. A large majority are currently employed or are looking for work. 88 percent told Lyft that flexible hours were a selling point for why they became drivers, but 82 percent of respondents drive fewer than 20 hours a week. The company’s core users are also millennials with only 25 percent over the age of 50.
To put these numbers into context, two years ago, the company reported that local economies received $225 million from its passengers, an 223 percent increase. Casual usage like heading out with friends wasn’t a dominate use case then either — 82 percent said it was used to visit friends and family or commuting to work.
In 2014, 3.9 million hours were saved on commute time, so now it’s gone up 566 percent.
These findings appear to be a motivator for Lyft’s recent updates to continue whatever momentum it has to be a significant transportation service in the U.S. In 2016, the company has not only released an upfront price estimation tool, made its “destination mode” widely available, unveiled a ride request SDK for iOS developers, and extended to the mobile web, it’s also released new benefits to drivers and done other programming to appeal to consumers.