Lyft will offer steep discounts and rely heavily on its ride-pooling service to ferry commuters during Metro’s big maintenance surge, SafeTrack. But like its rival Uber, the company will keep its version of surge pricing, “Prime Time,” in place.
Lyft says it’s slashing fares for its “pool” service, Lyft Line, by 75 percent in much of D.C. during peak commuting hours. The company says that discount, which covers an area including Georgetown, Columbia Heights, Capitol Hill and Navy Yard, will stand for a limited time.
Meanwhile, as Northern Virginia braces for the first phase of SafeTrack this weekend, which will snarl service from Ballston to East Falls Church with 13 days of continuous single-tracking, the company will offer discounts for new signups.
From June 6 to July 1, first-time passengers taking rides to or from Northern Virginia will get 50 percent off their first five rides. The promotion, which will take place on weekdays, will last during commuting hours — which Lyft defines as 6 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.
“We know the SafeTrack program will affect millions of rides around D.C. and in the surrounding areas, and we want to help ease the transition to get people where they need to go affordably and reliably,” said Lyft spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna.
Late last week, Uber said it would expand the coverage area of its ride-splitting service, UberPOOL, and create incentives to put drivers on the roads ahead of SafeTrack’s launch Saturday.
For the first week of SafeTrack — from June 6 to June 12 — Lyft says it will also offer 20 percent discounts to riders anywhere in the D.C. area from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
The company says it will introduce discounts throughout SafeTrack that will fit each phase of repairs. Lyft says it is also providing incentives to attract more drivers during surges and, with the end of Metro late-night service. As part of SafeTrack, the Metro system will shut down at midnight every night of the week, putting an end to night-owl service that left the system open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Lyft says it already gives 72 percent more rides during that three-hour period on weekends compared to weeknights. Asked whether it has enough drivers to meet the increased demand, the company said it has invested heavily in acquiring new drivers over the past nine months — including a $15 million investment in its D.C. operation this year — and driver promos over the coming weeks will ensure it has enough supply.
“Prime Time” also will factor heavily into its strategy of encouraging drivers.