For the monthly price of a lease on a well-equipped new car, Lyft will give you a discount on dozens of rides from strangers if you sign up for its just-announced subscription program.
With its new All-Access Plan, Lyft wants to pile itself atop your monthly bills assuming you currently hail at least 30 rides valued at $15 each month. This isn’t an unlimited data plan or an all-you-can-binge-watch Netflix order. Instead of paying $450 for those 30 rides, Lyft charges $299. Any extra rides bill separately at a 5 percent discount. Earlier this year, Lyft had been selectively offering subscription plans to its power users, priced between $199 and $399 per month. Competitor Uber’s Ride Pass is similar, but that is a pilot program and only available to certain existing customers, who have to be invited.
Lyft claims “personal car ownership is on the decline” despite record U.S. car sales in 2015 and 2016 and only a slight dip in 2017. While forgoing parking, property tax, gas, repairs, and insurance is especially worthwhile for city dwellers, we’d have to seriously question anyone outside a corporate Lyft account who would drop 300 bucks each month on car rides when it might cost the same-or considerably less-to use public transit and a car-sharing service or simply own a good used car with all its associated expenses.
Uber’s Ride Pass program has been quietly tested since last year. As with Gmail when it started, only an invited few can opt-in. For 10 bucks, Uber offers a 28-day lock on fare prices after allowing you to set your pickup and destination. But once set, you can’t change them for the duration of the pass. The preset fares are calculated by distance for UberX and Pool rides. Anything outside the preset fares is discounted 15 percent. As of now, Uber hasn’t said if it will become available to the general public.
Of course, you could consider driving through a car-sharing service like Zipcar, which, for the price of a short Uber or Lyft ride, lets you go anywhere for an entire hour. In Boston, Zipcar offers subscriptions for $7 per month that lock in starting hourly rates at $7.75. For $15 an hour, you could tool around in a Mercedes-Benz C-class as opposed to riding in the back of some cheap Camry smothered in Febreze. Choices, right?