Ride-sharing company Lyft plans to open a driver hub in Jersey City in the fall.
The hub will allow Lyft drivers to receive in-person support and connect with other drivers as a result of increased customer demand. Lyft expects to hire more full-time employees to work at the hub and will feature an updated app offering transit integration and smarter ride options.
“We are excited to be a business operating in New Jersey,” said Ann Ferracane, general manager for Lyft New Jersey. “More people want to use ridesharing as part of their commute. We are committed to greener cities.”
In opening its first building in New Jersey, Lyft will provide personalized support to drivers and host community events.
Meantime, Lyft has signed a contract with the city of Summit to serve as its exclusive ride-share partner.
Summit Chief Communications Officer Amy Cairns said the contract arose after the town first used rival ride-sharing company Uber for a year. Summit conducted then a survey of users who said they would have used Uber more if they were able to schedule rides.
After relaying this message to Uber representatives, Cairns said Uber couldn’t schedule rides in advance. Summit issued a second request for proposals, which resulted in Lyft being selected.
“Our city administrator Michael Rogers realized we had a parking issue and noticed that people drive their cars to the train station, park, commute and the cars sit there all day,” Cairns said. “Now that we are using Lyft, people are able to schedule rides in advance. We have an issue with parking congestion in Summit. Not only do we have residents who commute to New York City, ride-sharing is helping to ease congestion around the train station.”
Under the contract, Summit began offering up to 50 downtown Summit employees a subsidized rate through its parking authority. The parking authority is offering them a Lyft ride that is $2 per ride each way for a total of $4 per day.
“We are trying to incentivize not driving a car,” Cairns said. “Hopefully people are catching on and enthusiastic about the idea. Although we are making improvements, parking is still an issue. We do not want to build a single-use parking garage. Expanding the ride-sharing program is one option.”
Summit began with 100 participants in the first year and has now expanded it to 200 participants, Rogers said. They must be a Summit resident and long-term commuter.
“By no means did we think the program was going to be a panacea,” Rogers said. “It fluctuates by the day. It creates issues for people who come in later, there is more demand than supply. People have varying commuting patterns. It is not the same every day. It works some days.”
Summit is focusing on the resident long-term user for the simple reason that their car would be parked at the train station all day. The Summit train station is on the Morris-Essex line of New Jersey Transit.
Summit residents are pleased with the service and feel fortunate to have it, Rogers said.
“It is only as successful as the supply meets demand,” Rogers said. “Drivers must be available. If you are patient and can wait 10 minutes, great.”
The scheduled service allows Summit resident to reserve a Lyft ride up to 30 minutes to seven days in advance of their trip, Rogers said.
After conducting an economic impact report, Lyft determined that 30 percent of its customers in Newark use Lyft to connect with public transit, Ferracane said.
“We are working to build the app and integrating with transit agencies to partner with governments,” Ferracane said. “We want you to understand how long your commute will take.”