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Cheap rides are making Lyft less reliable | Quartz

Lyft spokesperson Campbell Matthews said in an email that ride wait times in New York City average around five minutes. “In times of high demand, passengers may see a higher ETA as we work to provide an affordable ride for passengers and earning opportunity for drivers,” she said.

Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick used to talk about how the first goal of surge pricing, Uber’s practice of raising rates when lots of people were trying to get a ride, was to keep the service reliable. “We don’t just charge to make a buck,” he posted on Facebook in December 2013. “The vast majority goes to the driver so that we can maximize the number of drivers on the road. The point is in order to provide you with a reliable ride, prices need to go up.”

Kalanick was right. Riders might hate surge pricing, but it ensures that people willing to pay more can get a ride quickly, because the higher fare makes the trip worthwhile to a greater number of drivers. Lyft’s ultra-low fares may very well be doing the opposite—making the service less reliable by luring customers with cheap fares that, ultimately, drivers don’t want to take. A $4.53 ride looks good until half an hour later, when you’re still waiting.

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Cheap rides are making Lyft less reliable — Quartz.