There's little doubt that ride-hailing companies are a big hit in large cities by making commuting more convenient for residents. One such company, Lyft, suggests that it is also boosting the local economy, and not only by employing drivers.
Lyft passengers contributed $33.5 million in new spending to Boston's economy this past year, according to the company's annual economic impact report.Nationwide, Lyftreported $750 million in such spending.
The numbers don't include the value of Lyft rides, said Peter Gigante, head of policy research at Lyft. They're indicative of just how much more riders spent by being able to takeLyfts to restaurants and shops.
"We asked passengers to think about their spending on shopping and entertainment before they had access to Lyft and then afterwards," Gigante said. [We looked at] are people spending more and if so by what amount, and then calculated that by ride activity across the Boston metro region."
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Businesses basically became more easily accessible to more people, he said. More than 77 percent of passengers reported that Lyftprovides access to more areas, and about 73 percent said they go out more often, or stay out longer, thanks to Lyft's services, according to the report.
Fifty-five percent percent of Lyftpassengers who responded to the company's survey said that they spent more at local businesses this past year thanks to the ride-hailing service. And, 41 percent of Lyft rides began in areas that are underserved by other modes of transportation.
"It's really indicative of the change in mindset of what people are willing to do," Gigante said.
For example, people may opt to stay home on a rainy night if they would have to walk somewhere or wait for outside for a while, trying to catch a bus, he said.
"If I know I can get myself there and back when I want to, I'm more likely to go out and thus spend money," Gigante said.
Lyft drivers also have an effect on the economy as well, of course. Gigante noted that many drivers moonlight at Lyft while working another job.
"It's important income, but it's supplemental, so it gives them a lot of freedom," he said.
Lyft also helps people save time, the company maintains. that is. Passengers saved $25 million in travel time by using Lyft instead of public transportation, according to the company's report.
"People have always asked us,'What kind of impact are you having on my city?' Gigantesaid. "We've always suspected that with greater confidence in transportation, people's behaviors shift. I think ultimately, providing more freedom and mobility meansmore activity to [business] areas."