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Lyft says rides in May jump 26% from previous month

Dave Lee in San Francisco

Rideshare service Lyft, Uber’s biggest competitor in North America, said the number of rides taken on its platform had increased 26 per cent in May compared with April, but said business was still well down because of continuing impacts from coronavirus.

Rides in May were down 66 per cent on the same month last year, following a 70 per cent year-on-year drop for April.

But the company pointed to seven consecutive weeks of increased rides since mid-April as a reason to be optimistic, telling investors in a filing on Tuesday that its losses would be narrower than it first predicted as the pandemic took hold.

Before accounting for interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, Lyft said it now expected to lose no more than $325m for the quarter – a 10 per cent improvement on what it told investors previously.

Lyft’s share price rose by about 3 per cent in after hours trading, a reflection of the more positive outlook. The company shared how it had observed several predictable trends: with parks reopening, people were using Lyft to do more at the weekend and, unsurprisingly, cities with looser lockdown restrictions had seen the biggest increases. Rides in Austin, Texas, for instance, increased 70 per cent between April and May.

Unlike rival Uber, Lyft has not been able to fall back on a food delivery business while people have been confined to their homes. However, it did record a 118 per cent increase in the use of its shared bikes from April to May – a sign, perhaps, of growing appeal in one of the few forms of socially-distant public transport.

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