Ride-sharing giant Uber enjoyed the benefit of being the first big name on the scene after it first appeared but many of its rivals wasted no time in quickly catching up to the pioneer. As with a lot of new businesses, Uber has seen its share of headaches and legal troubles over the past year, from sexual harassment charges made against its leadership to a series of class action lawsuits launched by its drivers. All that negative attention certainly didn’t help Uber’s brand image, prompting competitors like Lyft to step up their game and reap the rewards of Uber’s bad press. It seems those efforts have paid off, as Uber’s main competitor Lyft has just announced that it more than doubled its ride totals in 2017. Is this the beginning of the end for Uber, or just the beginning for Lyft?
Lyft users took a total of 162.6 million rides in 2016, while that number went up to 375.5 million in 2017 – an increase of 120%. Lyft’s VP of Operations Woody Hartman told Forbes that the increase has nothing to do with its rivals, but instead with the company and its users spreading the word about the quality of Lyft’s product:
I’ve been at Lyft five years, and every year is bigger and more exciting than the last, but 2017 really felt different. It felt like the year in which the public really got to know us for our mission and our values and that lead us to bring a bunch of new passengers and drivers onto the platform and achieve the kind of growth that we did.
Part of that growth stemmed from Lyft’s aggressive expansion into new markets. At the beginning of 2017, Lyft’s service only covered 55% of the American population; by the end of the year, 95% of Americans were able to hail Lyft cars. Lyft also opened its first non-U.S. market in 2017 in Toronto, Canada.