Lyft Adds Transit Schedules to App for Some Chicago Users

To push users toward different kinds of transportation — including its own bike-share — the company has started to include routes and schedules for Metra, CTA and the South Shore Line.

by Ally Marotti, Chicago Tribune / January 15, 2019
Shutterstock/Benoit Daoust

(TNS) — Lyft on Monday began displaying public transit routes and schedules in its app for some Chicago-area users.

The ride-hailing company is updating users’ apps on a rolling basis to display Metra, CTA and South Shore Line routes and schedules. The move comes about six months after Lyft bought Motivate, the operator of Chicago’s Divvy bike-sharing program.

Lyft wants more of its customers to use different types of transit on their daily commutes, said Caroline Samponaro, Lyft’s head of bike, pedestrian and scooter policy.

“When I wake up in the morning, I don’t think of myself as ‘I’m a transit rider. I’m a bike rider.’ I happen to be both,” she said. “People want more options at their fingertips. They want to know how to piece together the fastest and most affordable route.”

Divvy’s top five stations in Chicago are near public transit stations, including Metra’s Ogilvie Transportation Center and the Merchandise Mart CTA stop, Samponaro said.

Chicago is the fifth city in which Lyft rolled out the new feature, called Nearby Transit. Other cities include Santa Monica, Calif.; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles.

Ride-share companies like Lyft and its competitor, Uber Technologies, have been battling to own the market on short-distance ground transportation. Months before Lyft acquired Motivate, Uber bought electric-bike rental startup Jump Bikes, which had a test run on the South Side last year.

In years past, Uber and Lyft have faced criticism for cutting into public transit use in cities like Chicago. Local alderman have also considered capping the number of ride-share vehicles to alleviate congestion, a move New York made last August.

Lyft will be pulling publicly available data to incorporate the real-time public transit levels, Samponaro said. That data is not currently available in Uber’s app.

Spokespeople for Metra, the South Shore Line and the CTA all said they were pleased Lyft is including the information. Getting people from the transit stations to their final destination is a challenge that needs to be addressed.

“As the transportation ecosphere continues to evolve, public transit should be central to any conversation about mobility,” CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said in an email. “No mode can move as many people, more affordably, as transit.”

©2019 the Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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