Lyft asks Americans to ditch their cars for ride-hailing vouchers

(Reuters) - Lyft Inc on Thursday said it was rolling out an offer to users in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago to sell their cars and receive credit on the ride-hailing platform.

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Those who sell their vehicle through Carvana Co, an online used car retailer, would receive $250 in Lyft credit and three months of free membership in Lyft’s subscription service Pink.

Lyft Pink membership, which costs $19.99 a month, provides a 15% discount on ride-hailing trips and 90 minutes of complimentary bike-share and electric scooter rides in cities with availability.

The offer is targeted at people who are already considering giving up their car, said Lyft’s senior director for transportation policy, Lilly Shoup. Lyft plans to expand the program to other cities.

Carvana would not share any profits from the sale of a car with Lyft, Shoup said.

Lyft in September announced changes to its app, allowing users in some cities to compare the cost and travel times of different modes of transportation, including public transit.

The company currently operates bike-share services in eight cities, including in Chicago and San Francisco, and scooters in 20 cities, including Los Angeles. A pilot scooter project in Chicago recently ended.

Lyft and larger rival Uber Technologies Inc have come under fire from officials and advocacy groups in major cities like New York for worsening congestion by significantly added to street traffic as more people ditch public transit in favor of personal rides.

The Lyft app also displays public transportation options in all three cities targeted as part of the car selling program.

Shoup said the effort was part of Lyft’s commitment to reduce private car ownership and encourage multi-modal transportation.

Transportation is the second-largest household expenditure after housing, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, with households spending an average of roughly $9,760 on transportation in 2018.

Asked whether Lyft research had shown its alternative transportation offers to be cheaper than private car ownership, Shoup said those calculations were highly personal and dependent on the individual commuter.

(This story corrects scooter availability in Chicago in paragraph 7, changes paragraph 9 to reflect that transit data is already available as of this week, not next)

Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot