Ridesharing Moves Toward Subscriptions

In the last few weeks, both Lyft and Uber rolled out (very different) subscription pricing models.

Lyft’s All-Access Plan offers 30 rides per 30 days (up to $15 per ride) for $299. This is basically a bulk purchase option. A Lyft power user would save $150 per month by subscribing instead of paying per ride. (30 rides * $15 per ride— $299 subscription price =$151 savings)

Uber’s Ride Pass, by contrast, is essentially insurance against surge pricing. For $14.99 per month, Uber users escape the risks of surge pricing, plus they save approximately 15% off of normal fares. A user would probably need to spend $100 or more per month on Uber to come out ahead.

Each of these offers is a tiny, baby step toward all-you-can-eat subscription ridesharing. The marginal cost of each ride probably prohibits Lyft and Uber from diving headfirst into all-you-can-eat ridesharing. Hopefully self-driving cars will lower that marginal cost to the point that it becomes feasible.

My first professional job was with America Online, now AOL. I joined as a college intern in 2001, but there were still veterans around who could recall AOL’s switch from hourly to unlimited pricing.

22 years ago, AOL switched from plans that allowed for metered hourly Internet usage to plans that allowed unlimited Internet access. The pricing change brought in a wave of new customers, along with per-user usage increases that overwhelmed AOL’s infrastructure. It was one of the most significant things AOL ever did.

Ridesharing is getting closer to its all-you-can-eat moment.

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