Lyft announced today plans to spend $100 million on a network of new driver “hubs,” where ride-sharing drivers can get low-cost oil changes, basic maintenance on their vehicles, and car washes, as well as access to “clean bathrooms.” The new investment is part of Lyft’s effort to lower costs for its drivers, who as independent contractors shoulder all the expenses associated with their work for the company.
Lyft’s effort to lower costs for its drivers
To start out, the ride-hail company says it will double operational hours at the 15 support centers it currently maintains. Previously, the hubs were in operation for around 35–40 hours a week, but Lyft said it would be increasing that to over 70 hours a week.
In the meantime, the company is beginning to draw up plans for a spate of next-generation hubs that it hopes to break ground on very soon. A spokesperson said that initial plans call for around 30 new centers.
In addition to “heavily discounted” oil changes and car washes, drivers who visit these Lyft hubs can get information about vehicle rentals, tax filings, and career support. A communal area offers coffee and refreshments, in addition to access to clean bathrooms and comfortable spots for a little shut-eye.
“We’re not doing 180 days of change,” said Lyft COO Jon McNeill, in a reference to Uber’s six-month effort last year to improve driver relations. “Lyft has been committed to drivers since our beginning.”
Of course, Lyft’s drivers are Uber’s drivers, too. In most cities, drivers tend to work for both apps, although typically they will favor one over the other. In recent months, both companies have sought to bolster driver loyalty through tech updates and public statements of support. Uber redesigned its app for drivers, while Lyft is making earnings the centerpiece of its claim that it’s the “driver friendly alternative.”
Nonetheless, Lyft will have a lot of catching up to do if it wants to capture more of Uber’s drivers. Uber has over 600 “Greenlight” support centers for drivers worldwide. Some are fairly large and fancy, and offer a full suite of services, while others are considered satellite centers with limited personnel and services.