We’re starting to get antsy after two months of social distancing due to the novel coronavirus, and you can tell as more people order rides from services like Lyft.
It’s not surprising that ride-hailing app Lyft saw rides drop 75 percent last month compared to April last year, as its executives explained during an earnings call on Wednesday. But if you look at what’s already happening in cities that are starting to ease social distancing measures, you’ll notice ride-sharing is starting to inch back up — at least just a little.
Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer outlined how many major U.S. cities have been seeing growth, even if small, over the past three weeks. Rides are up in Atlanta, Houston, New Orleans, and Chicago. Even New York City and Seattle bumped up in rides in the last week of April.
On recovery, Lyft says it saw a 7% increase across the board in the week ending May 3rd (vs first week in April).
Some cities with particularly strong recoveries in same period:
up 25% in Atlanta
39% New Orleans
— Dave Lee (@DaveLeeFT) May 6, 2020
Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, and Austin also measured upward in Lyft rides in recent weeks.
It might be alarming to see New York City, where coronavirus has struck the hardest, with its most rides yet on the Lyft platform, up 22 percent from the week before. But keep in mind these are all increases from a low base (very few people are commuting or even leaving the house). Still, lockdowns are wearing on people.
For Lyft, these small but significant increases show that ride-share platforms won’t fade away even if ride demand is super low right now. The company had to lay off 17 percent of employees across all departments last week. And even if Lyft (and its competitor Uber) had to slash its shared rides offering to comply with CDC guidelines for safe distancing, it thinks its other options are still viable. Lyft launched a lower-fare option this week called “Wait and Save.”
But that’s as far it goes for promotions. Lyft stressed rider coupons were no longer available, and unlikely to return anytime soon.
No matter, as more cities open up, Lyft expects riders to avoid typically crowded, risky public transportation options more than they used to and turn to options like ride-hailing. Lyft’s banking on it.