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Companies use Lyft program as public transit alternative for employees returning to office


More companies are requiring employees to return to the office, whether it be on a part- or full-time basis. To do so, some are turning to Lyft to help employees avoid public transportation and parking. 

Lyft Chief Business Officer Zach Greenberger said companies are taking advantage of its Lyft Pass program to help their respective employees get back and forth to the office. 

Over the past year, hundreds of companies have already inquired about the program, which is described as a customizable coupon that can be used to subsidize a rider’s trip. Companies have the ability to use this coupon to cover part of or the entire cost of an employee’s commute, according to Lyft. They can also customize it to their return to office policy.

Greenberger said the program gives commuters flexibility and can save companies “a lot of money relative to a multimillion-dollar bus program,” for instance. 

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“We’re simply saying that if you’re going to require some level [of in-person office work], here is a solution that may help relieve some of the anxiety for your employees,” Greenberger said. 

Lyft has seen an uptick in commute rides both in the morning and at night. Such rides are up 17% in the first half of 2023 when compared to the same period a year ago, according to Lyft data. This uptick coincides with the increase in companies – even Zoom – requiring workers to come back to the office part- or full-time. 

Prior to the pandemic, the program started out with a team distributing codes and credits to companies for things like office holiday parties. Lyft eventually partnered with universities to offer monthly credits to students and then created a program to help subsidize rides for healthcare patients. 

Uber and Lyft driver

A Lyft decal is seen on a car in the pick-up area at JFK Airport on April 28, 2023 in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images / Getty Images)

In 2020, the program began helping organizations cover the costs of rides for essential workers who needed to get to their jobs. Today, it is “becoming quite relevant for return to office,” Greenberger said.

It is helping the ride-share giant – which is trying to claw back market share from rival Uber – build upon its current business relationships and create new ones. 

Ever since CEO David Risher took over, he has been working to turn around the company’s mounting losses. To do so, Risher cut some of the company’s workforce to drive down costs and get rider fares in line with the market. 

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This program is giving Lyft some differentiation from competitors, according to Greeenberger. 

Lyft signage on a vehicle

Lyft signage on a vehicle as it exits the ride-sharing pickup at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

One of their current business partners, MasterCard, is now offering $25 per day, up to 20 times per month for all of their Bay Area employees. 

Lyft said they adopted a similar program with Starbucks to help their baristas, otherwise known as partners, get to work early in the morning and late at night. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SBUX STARBUCKS CORP. 99.24 +0.09 +0.09%
MA MASTERCARD INC. 413.79 +1.98 +0.48%

Meanwhile, LinkedIn developed a program after realizing they face significant parking lot limitations at their San Francisco office. The company only had a few hundred spots for thousands of employees. 

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Over 3,000 LinkedIn employees are part of that program today, Greenberger said.

GE Appliances created a program for their headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, after employees disclosed during exit interviews that transportation was a huge barrier to getting to work. Now, hundreds of employees use it every month. 

Lyft projects this push for in-office work will continue and as a result, is honing in on how to take advantage of helping others use Lyft Pass from a commute perspective, he added. 

Lyft

The Lyft logo is displayed on a car on March 11, 2019, in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Although Lyft is taking away a significant burden for employees going back to the office, Jennifer Dulski, CEO of the team development platform Rising Team, argued that companies are going to have do to a lot more to ease the stress of going back to the office. 

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Dulski, a former Google and Facebook executive, said “commute time is one of the major reasons that employees prefer working from home, since they lose time that could be productive.” 

Although covering the cost can remove one major burden, it is only “half the battle,” she said. 

“It likely doesn’t solve the time issue, unless companies also equip employees with Wi-Fi hotspots or some other way to do work during the commute,” according to Dulski. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
LYFT LYFT INC. 11.68 +0.91 +8.45%

“For short commutes, it may be fine to cover cost only and not provide a way to work during that time,” Dulski added. “However, many employees moved further out of cities during the pandemic, which means they now have longer commutes.” 

The challenge for companies is being able to balance these “perks with the cost-cutting efforts that are key to survival in this economy.” 

That said, Dulski does not expect it to go “back to the heyday of peak office perks.”

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