August 20, 2018

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Lyft’s New England Business Operations

If you live in a big city and want to use a different way to get around, then you’ve probably used the ride-sharing app Lyft at least once. Last year, the San Francisco-based company received a surge of growth; nearly 376 million trips were given with Lyft, and the total amount of passengers rose by 92%. With this massive increase in business, it may come as no surprise that the on-demand transportation company is growing in relevance in several regions across the country.

Tyler George
Tyler George, General Manager of New England at Lyft

One of the regions where Lyft has become apparent is the Boston area. And much of the business increase can be attributed to the Lyft New England team, led by its General Manager Tyler George. George’s job involves adding more drivers on the road, maintaining positive customer service, and growing Lyft’s market share. However, the most prominent part of this job is, to quote the man himself, “how to make the service better for Bostonians?”

George has worked with transportation-related technology companies his entire career, spending a little more than 10 years at Zipcar, and even spent some time in their San Francisco office. However, he is from Boston and was the first hire for the New England team. As a resident, he understands the need for a service like Lyft.

“One of the appealing things about Boston is that it’s a walkable city with access to tons of public transportation,” said George. “A user can log into Lyft and will be able to be where they need to within 10 to 15 minutes at times, and I think we are in the best possible location we can be.”

Lyft’s New England presence

Lyft started servicing Boston in 2014, but in their West Coast HQ, they began to take note of the rapidly growing market in the Hub. The company decided the best way to manage this expanding side of the business would be to have a ground floor team. When 2015 rolled in, Lyft hired a group of new employees, led by George, to conduct analytics and to help expand the service even further.

In the New England offices, Lyft NE won’t be doing a lot engineering but instead conducts predictive modeling analytics to figure out what regions to expand into, such as suburban towns. The team in Boston also has a small marketing team leading various localized marketing tactics to bring in more business and connect with their audience.

What sets New England apart from other markets?

One of the more obvious differences is in the weather. Seasons will regularly change in Massachusetts more than they do in California, and since snow tends to stick around a lot longer, that results in some odd business changes for Lyft, such as an increase in ride requests and people signing up to be drivers. The largest difference, according to George, is the culture surrounding various aspects of the two cities.

Sharing rides with more than one passenger also became more of the norm for the New England market and were adopted almost immediately among Lyft users in the area. Lyft NE has also managed to partner with several colleges, such as Tufts University, to create a partnership where students can commute to class. A more specific use case is with Boston College, who utilizes the app for sports games.

“BC is one of the few colleges to serve alcohol at their sports games, and in order to make sure their students would get home safe, they leveraged Lyft for that to happen,” said George. “Luckily for the school and us, the experience went well, and they have been using it ever since.”

Lyft in the Boston tech scene

Over the past three years, Lyft’s market share keeps growing in Boston, the surrounding suburbs in the area, and even Cape Cod.

Aside from this growth, they have also managed to connect with the tech scene at large. According to George, a few users have been on tech enterprise accounts, using Lyft to transport them to meetings. However, one of the more intriguing business developments is their connection to another transportation-oriented company.

As we’ve written about extensively, autonomous driving startup nuTonomy is making strides within its particular industry. And it was Lyft NE who partnered with them in order to test their autonomous ride-sharing service.

“It was a great experience for the team to be able to connect with a local company like nuTonomy,” said George. “The cars were able to drive around the Seaport area and we’ve been able to maintain that partnership with them. We’re hoping to connect with other autonomous driving startups in the future.”

“Sadly, I didn’t get to ride in one,” George laughed.

Colin Barry is an Editor & Staff Writer to VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash
Images courtesy of the MSL Group