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Lyft’s ride-hailing business is starting to claw its way out of a deep hole

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Ridership and revenue are still down year over year, but they’re steadily improving compared to earlier this year

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Lyft continues to struggle to bring in money amid rising case numbers of COVID-19 in the US. The ride-hailing company lost $459.5 million over the last three months, with its adjusted net revenues down 48 percent year over year.

Its ride-hailing is significantly smaller than it was last year. This quarter, Lyft reported having 12.5 million active riders, compared to 22.3 million in the third quarter of 2019 — a drop of 44 percent. It’s a deep hole, but Lyft is starting to claw its way out. The company’s ridership has been steadily growing over the course of the year: this quarter’s number is 44 percent improvement over Q2.

Lyft brought in nearly $500 million in revenue this quarter, versus $956 million in the third quarter of 2019. It was a steady improvement of 47 percent over the second quarter of 2020, when Lyft only made $339 million. Lyft’s losses were essentially flat this quarter when compared to Q3 of 2019: $495 million versus $463.5 million.

Amid all that red ink there was one positive note for Lyft. The passage of Proposition 22 in California was an obvious win for the company which, along with Uber and DoorDash, spent over $200 million to push for its approval. The ballot measure exempts Lyft from a state law requiring it to classify its drivers as employees.