The Industry

Lyft Is Testing a Subscription Service

Certain Lyft users can buy a $199 monthly pass for 30 rides.
Certain Lyft users can buy a $199 monthly pass for 30 rides. Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Lyft

Lyft has been testing out a Netflix-esque subscription service for high-frequency users over the last few months, The Verge reported Thursday.

Like its counterparts in the music and video streaming industry, Lyft offers a variety of plans at different price points, such as a $199 monthly pass for 30 rides and a $399 pass for 60 rides. The passes are only applicable for rides up to $15, and access to the plans are invite-only at the moment. In 2016, Uber had been testing an “Uber Plus” subscription service in cities like San Diego and Boston, though the program does not appear to have become a more widely available feature.

Lyft’s foray into a subscription payment model appears to be tied to its self-driving car initiative. On Wednesday, when the company announced that it would be working with automotive supplier Magna to build autonomous vehicles, CEO Logan Green said, “We are going to move the entire [car] industry from one based on ownership, to one based on subscription.”

Popular Science notes that self-driving cars will be essential to this shift, because cutting down on the cost per mile will make a subscription service more financially viable. Autonomous vehicles, of course, would make rides more affordable by making driver fees and the limitations of human fatigue obsolete. The reduction in costs would allow Lyft to act more like Netflix, which sells movies as a service, rather than an item that a consumer can own.

More and more carmakers themselves have also been making a transition towards subscription services, with Ford, Porsche, Cadillac, and others allowing drivers to rent cars month-to-month with insurance and maintenance included. (This is largely different from leasing, which is typically yearlong and requires renters to handle insurance themselves.) It seems that we’re moving towards a simpler, more low-commitment approach to cars, without the responsibilities of having to actually own or drive one.