Your list of monthly subscriptions probably includes some mix of primarily entertainment-focused services, such as Netflix or Hulu and Spotify or Apple Music. Or maybe there are some food related ones too, like HelloFresh or MealPal. Soon, however, you may be adding Lyft to that list: The ride-sharing company is rolling out a new subscription plan that makes it possible to travel a regular route at a reasonable, fixed cost.
Until now, the main problem with using Lyft or one of its ride-sharing competitors as a feasible daily transportation option has been their variability in price. Unlike a monthly subway or bus pass, which is a fixed amount you can build into your travel budget, a Lyft can range in price depending on the time of day and how busy the traffic is at the moment you request a ride. Subscriptions, which lock in a regular cost for a route, offer an alternative to these problems.
The Personal Plan, as Lyft is calling its new subscription, is an evolution of a subscription the company previously offered called the Commute Plan. The Commute Plan was immensely popular — the month-long subscription sold out in a day — but had its limitations. It was only available to users who had designated shortcuts for their home and work addresses within the app and did not offer any variability. You could not, for example, choose to take your Lyft to the gym after work instead of going straight home. If you wanted to go anywhere else, you would need to call a ride that did not have the locked-in price. (Another Lyft plan, the All-Access plan, lets users lock in a specific number of rides for a total cost upfront, such as 15 rides for $300, rather than a fixed rate per ride.)
The new Personal Plan offers room for flexibility: You pay a small, upfront fee for the monthly subscription (Lyft says this varies based on the route and will cost somewhere in the $1.99 to $9.99 range), which locks in the rate — at up to $25 per ride — for the route you have chosen. This route can go from home to the gym, from work across town to your boyfriend or girlfriend's place, or, if you liked the thinking behind the Commute Plan, from home to work.
The fixed price you pay for that trip is based on multiple factors: "There's a lot of science behind [the rate], but we look for a reliable price we know our service can meet that is attractive to passengers as well," Katie Dill, Lyft's VP of design, told Refinery29. "This will smooth out those moments where things could get more expensive because it’s a super busy time."
For now, you'll only be able to subscribe to a single route and cannot lock in a price for two separate routes. The subscription will only apply to car rides, and not alternative transportation options such as bikes or scooters. However, Dill says the company plans to use the release of the Personal Plan as a first step to understanding how people are using subscriptions, before taking further steps to roll out a more comprehensive subscription model with more flexibility. Meanwhile, Lyft's main competitor, Uber, previously tested a subscription ride pass, but has not made any recent announcements about further monthly plans.
The Personal Plan will start rolling out today to a limited number of users across the country, who will be able to sign up via an email invitation or an invitation within the app.