To relatively little fanfare, Lyft announced on its blog last week that it is now offering 24/7 roadside assistance for drivers. The new service is being provided in partnership with Allstate Roadside Services (ARS) and will be the first benefit of its kind in the industry. This will be an especially useful resource in a city like Los Angeles, where drivers regularly find themselves transporting passengers across multiple counties, potentially an hour or more from their home bases.
All Lyft contractors will be entitled to ARS at a “pre-negotiated flat rate”. Towing within a distance of 5 miles will cost $79. Additional assistance for issues such as fuel lockout, flat tire, dead car batteries and fuel delivery are set at $59 each.
The ARS perk is part of Accelerate, the company’s tiered incentives program designed to reward its busiest, most productive drivers. Enrolled members who hold Platinum status (logging a minimum of 200 rides per month) will get the service for free. Drivers pay the fee up front but will be reimbursed in full once they submit the receipt to Lyft Support.
The move reflects a continued effort on the Lyft’s part to distinguish itself from Uber, which not only controls more U.S. markets but is the only Silicon Valley TNC to have expanded globally as well. Lyft has spent a significant amount of its venture capital investment funds cultivating its brand as a community-oriented business that treats customers and drivers with equal respect. The company’s vision can be observed in both its marketing and its business decisions, from adopting the slogan “your friend with a car” to maintaining its popular Power Driver Bonus program, which allows drivers who clock 50 hours or more in a single week to keep all of their earnings free of commission.
So far, the effort appears to have proven successful, at least for drivers. In an unscientific online survey of rideshare contractors published in December on the site Ride.Share.News, Lyft ranked higher than Uber in all questions comparing the two. Nearly three times as many respondents preferred Lyft to Uber in terms of “overall driver experience”, and nearly twice as many respondents found Lyft’s driver support superior to Uber’s. As the industry continues to evolve and Uber’s superior marketing tactics further cement its dominance in the ridesharing economy, it will be imperative for Lyft to likewise cement its reputation as the friendlier, more fun alternative for passengers and drivers alike.