When I first heard that Lyft was going to be offering an “All Access” monthly subscription plan to “deliver on our goal of making car ownership optional“, I was intrigued. I thought to myself, “hmm… perhaps this is something that could cut the cost of transportation for a lot of my readers, by allowing them to get rid of their pricey cars altogether”.
Then, the plan details were released.
This past week, Lyft officially announced the specifics of their new plan, which are:
- an upfront customer payment of $299 every 30 days
- up to 30 rides per month (up to $15 each, and if you go over, you pay the difference)
- 5% off additional rides
It’s not exactly unlimited “All Access”, as the name implies, is it? I guess “30 rides of $15 or less access” doesn’t sound as sexy. Deceptive.
Lyft then goes on to claim that:
“Americans who use the All-Access Plan for all of their personal car needs can save up to 59%* per month compared to owning a car.”
I like the idea of getting rid of your car for cost savings, but this claim is deceptive for many reasons. I’ll save your time today by not going through all of them. But, for starters, people overspend for their cars and insurance, so comparing to the average is not really helpful. Secondly, if you go over 30 rides in a given month, you’re paying all but 5% of the additional cost. And if you’re commuting daily, both ways, 5-days a week, you’re going to need at least 40 rides each month to cover just your commute. I’ll stop there.
Next, let’s simply look at whether this could be a good deal versus no plan at all.
At best, if you’re able to maximize the deal (exactly 30 $15 rides = $450 in rides per month), you can come out $151 ahead (vs. 30 non-“All Access” Lyft rides). But… that’s going to be the use case for exactly zero subscribers.
Here are just a few of the many reasons why this Lyft offering is not going to be a great deal (and maybe even a net loss) for those who subscribe:
- If your rides are less than $15 you don’t get to use unspent funds on a given ride towards your next ride.
- If your rides are all over $15, you’re paying all but 5% of the difference, so there’s not much incentive to plop down $299 upfront.
- Tips are, sadly, not included within that $15 per ride allowance. If you’re taking 30 rides per month, they can add up quickly (i.e. 30 rides x $3 tip = $90 per month).
- No rollover from month-to-month for unused rides. You’re paying for 30 rides even if you only use 1, 5, or 20.
- You’re locked in to Lyft. There’s no incentive to competitively compare on-demand pricing with Uber and other rideshare services – and sometimes Uber can be notably cheaper than Lyft for the same ride.
Looking to Lyft “All Access” for commuting cost savings? You should look elsewhere. If you’re doing $15 or less rides, you’re probably within a few miles from your destination, which means that you likely have “all access” use of a bike, your feet, and/or public transportation – which all could cost next to nothing. Car vs Lyft is a false dichotomy. You should start with get a bus or rail pass, biking to work, and investing in a nice pair of walking shoes.