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Lyft plans to expand to 100 more US cities in 2017

Move comes as fares in San Francisco get cut

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales/The Verge

Lyft will launch its service in 100 additional cities in the US in 2017, according to Business Insider. The major expansion, which was confirmed by a spokesperson, will bring the total number of US cities served by Lyft up to 300 by the end of the year.

The expansion will begin right away, with Lyft adding 40 cities to its map on Thursday. The remaining 60 cities will be announced later this year. Lyft says that it currently covers 55 percent of the US population, or 177 million people, and that by the end of the year, that coverage will increase to 72 percent of the population, or 231 million people.

“We are building on the momentum of an awesome 2016 and will accelerate our launch pace over the next several months,” said Jaime Raczka, head of early stage markets and expansion, in a statement. “There is a lot of excitement from both passengers and drivers as Lyft expands into these new markets.”

Previously I reported that Uber, which claims to cover 75 percent of the US population, viewed upstate New York as one of the last places in the country where the ride-hailing juggernaut would be making a strong push. That push is still ongoing, with a major fight planned in the New York State Legislature over whether to allow ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft in areas outside New York City.

That said, Lyft has a long way to go to catch up with Uber, which is available in over 560 cities around the globe. So far, Lyft has remained within the US, but it seems likely the company will seek to expand into other countries soon enough. The company formed an anti-Uber alliance with a handful of Asian ride-hailing companies, though the status of that alliance is unclear since Uber sold its Chinese business to one of the members, Didi Chuxing.

Lyft’s domestic expansion comes as the ride-hailing startup put into effect a modest price cut in its city of origin, San Francisco. According to a “competitive strategy update” message obtained by The Verge, Lyft said it would be lowering prices by less than 2 percent thanks to “slower winter months” and “competition offering lower prices.” (The validity of the latter reason is a little unclear, as Uber has broken with tradition this year by abandoning its annual price cuts, according to Quartz.)

Under the new price structure, Lyft will now charge $1.15 per mile in San Francisco, in addition to $0.22 per minute of the trip. A spokesperson didn’t respond to questions about price changes in other cities. The company also adjusted its commission structure, according to the fine print. Lyft will now take a cut from cancellation fees, as well as the entire fee from canceled Lyft Line trips.

These changes are unlikely to affect Lyft’s status as the “driver friendly” alternative to Uber. Thanks to higher earnings and an in-app tipping option, drivers say they are happier with Lyft than Uber.

The cities where Lyft is expanding this week are: Redding, CA; San Luis Obispo, CA; Victorville, CA; El Centro, CA; Merced, CA; Yuba City, CA; Chico, CA; Clarksville, TN; Johnson City, TN; Dover, DE; Erie, PA; Altoona, PA; Williamsport, PA; Johnstown, PA; Roanoke, VA; Harrisonburg, VA; Lynchburg, VA; Baton Rouge, LA; Lake Havasu City, AZ; Yuma, AZ; Las Cruces, NM; St. George, UT; Fayetteville, NC; Salisbury, NC; Jacksonville, NC; Columbia, SC; Greenville, SC; Myrtle Beach, SC; Springfield, MO; Fort Wayne, IN; Wichita, KS; South Bend, IN; Manchester, NH; Bowling Green, KY; Gallup, NM; Logan, UT; Outer Banks, NC; Blacksburg, VA; Spartanburg, SC; Idaho Falls, ID.

Update, January 25th, 1:13PM ET: A Lyft spokesperson confirmed that price cuts have taken place in San Francisco, as well as several other cities.

“We have made minor adjustments to our pricing structure in a few markets around the country,” the spokesperson said. “The net change of these adjustments is approximately 1 percet. Moreover, our in-app tipping feature — unique to Lyft — continues to ensure that our drivers are able to earn more than drivers on other platforms. This is backed up by a recent third-party study on rideshare driver earnings, which also showed that Lyft drivers are significantly more satisfied than those who drive for our competition.”