Las Vegas Sun

November 15, 2018

Currently: 49° — Complete forecast

Our best year yet’: Lyft claims ‘ton of impact’ on Las Vegas in 2017


John Locher / AP

In this Jan. 14, 2016, photo, a driver waits to pick up passengers at an Uber and Lyft pickup area at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Lyft has seen its business in the valley double year-over-year since its entrance into the Las Vegas market over two years ago, an executive for the rideshare company announced Tuesday.

With the ever-expanding business in Las Vegas, the city is benefitting in various ways, according to an economic impact study conducted by the Land Econ Group for Lyft. The group looked at 52 metropolitan regions across the U.S. examining travel habits, driver and passenger communities and behavior change in 2017.

“Last year was our best year yet,” said Yacob Girma, general manager of Lyft Las Vegas. “We’ve grown tremendously and have had a ton of impact (on the city). We’re growing rapidly. Week-over-week, month-over-month.”

The study revealed Lyft passengers spent $92 million in town over last year.

“This is what Lyft passengers spent from their pocket into the Vegas community,” he said. “If Lyft was not here, this spending wouldn’t happen.”

The figure is based of those who don’t have a car or access to public transportation, who wouldn’t have spent that money had they not had access to Lyft.

Of those who were transporting passengers, 92 percent drove less than 20 hours per week, with 70 percent being primary earners for their households.

Girma said that not driving full time leaves more time for drivers to spend with family, take vacations and work other jobs.

“There’s a very small percentage of our drivers that actually drive full time,” he said. “I take lots of Lyft rides in the market and I ask what they do. Many have other careers, from accountants, car dealers, to teachers. They have other jobs and this could be supplemental income, or they like talking and connecting with people.”

The study showed 50 percent of Lyft's supplemental-income drivers in Las Vegas are veterans.

“We’ve focused on (hiring veteran drivers) and that number has gone up year-over-year,” Girma said. “We do target hiring veterans because we think it’s important and it’s something we care about because there are a lot of veterans here.”

With Lyft being offered in Las Vegas, many locals are using their personal vehicles less and opting for rideshare service for various occasions.

“For us here it’s those airport rides … and mostly those looking to go out,” Girma said. “They don't want to think about driving and parking and paying fees at most casinos now. Then the other piece of it is DUI.”

Lyft offers its Safe Ride program where it pledges money in ride credits each year, with $100,000 earmarked in 2018. The credits are offered during high-capacity weekends such as New Year’s Eve and Cinco de Mayo, when it’s more likely for people to be drinking excessively.

Riders can receive a discounted rate by entering the code Lyft puts out before hailing their ride.

“We formed many public-private partnerships with community members, like the Raiders, Downtown Summerlin, Top Golf and Fremont Street, who are part of that, where we're saying don’t drive under the influence, take a Lyft. It’s cheaper (than a DUI) and safer as well.”

With Lyft focusing on the local clientele as opposed to the tourist side ever since it arrived in Las Vegas, Girma is proud that 21 percent of rides start in low-income areas.

“We focused on everywhere but the Strip and the airport and it is important to see that rides can start in low-income areas without feeling nervous or scared,” he said. “You can both get a ride as a passenger and not be discriminated against, but as a driver, you feel safe and you trust the system, because everything is tracked.”