Uber hasn’t had to deal with any serious competition since its very first years of operation. However, new numbers from what might be the most important ride-hailing market in the country suggest that it might soon have a familiar foe nipping at its heels.
Yes, Lyft is making a comeback in New York City of all places, according to data provided by Lyft to Re/code. While Lyft didn’t disclose total numbers of drivers or riders, it did note that there were six times the number of riders who were hopping into pink-mustachioed cars in February as there were in May of 2015. Similarly, its number of drivers increased fourfold over the same period. While the numbers may not seem impressive in light of Uber’s near-dominance of the market, Evan Cohen, director of Lyft’s East Coast region, told Re/code that, because Lyft only launched in the Big Apple about 18 months ago, the company always knew it would have to wait to see the growth it wanted.
“We had to start from scratch here,” Cohen told Re/code. “It’s really only been a year that we started investing in the team and driver-support programs.”
While Cohen proposed that Lyft-exclusive, driver-friendly features, like tipping, are causing more on-demand workers to defect to its service instead of Uber, it’s hard not to factor in the PR backlash Uber received from its recent rate cut that sent hundreds, if not thousands, of drivers into protest mode. One even told Observer that he’s started focusing on a mysterious second source of income separate from his Uber obligations.
“Yes, the rate cuts have affected my earnings,” the anonymous driver said. “I am less motivated to go out and drive. Instead, I’m focusing more on my other business, which is already making me more money per week than I earned through Uber on New Year’s week.”
If Lyft was ever going to make its move to claw back at the lead Uber has carved out for itself, it’s now.