Lyft's support for public transportation will soon include one of the biggest mass transit systems on the planet. The ridesharing firm is rolling out access to real-time New York City subway directions through its app over the months ahead, giving locals a one-stop directory for some of the most common transportation options in town. You'll still have to pay with your MetroCard (or a tap of your phone), but you could use just one app to take a Lyft car to an urgent meeting, the subway for your return and a Citi Bike for the last leg of the journey.
The company's Lilly Shoup told Bloomberg this was about fulfilling Lyft's goal of offering the "world's best transportation," but it's ultimately about keeping users within its ecosystem. If you only need one app for every aspect of your commute, you're less like to drift to competitors. Uber has public transportation options in its app, and there's a real possibility that a customer who switches to Uber for mass transit directions could be lost for good.
It's certainly odd timing for Lyft. Although it does own Citi Bike, the company has lately been at odds with NYC over a myriad of issues, including the minimum wage for drivers and the ride-hailing vehicle cap. This shows that Lyft is still highly dependent on the city and determined to win over its residents, even if officials are concerned about its potential harm.
Reporting by Jon Fingas for Engadget.