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Lyft says its presence in Tampa has led to nearly $12 million in new spending in local economy

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

With Lyft (along with Uber) now street legal in Tampa after more than two-and-half-years of wrangling with the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission, the San Francisco-based ridesharing company is making some bold claims about its impact on the local economy.

In a report based on surveys conducted with Lyft drivers and passengers in Tampa released Monday, the company says that more than $11.9 million in new spending was generated in the local economy in 2016 because of its presence.

When asked its motivation for requesting a Lyft ride, 78 percent said it was to travel to and from restaurants or entertainment venues, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that these riders don’t want to drink and drive. A full 92 percent say are more likely to avoid driving while intoxicated because they can get a Lyft ride, and 61 percent of passengers say they use Lyft for friends and family who need assistance after drinking.

“People are going out more, staying out longer, and visiting areas of their city that weren’t easily accessible before Lyft,” said Peter Gigante, Lyft’s Head of Policy Research. “This has had a real impact on local businesses and economies, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars spent by residents and visitors. Passengers also save both time and money when they can choose a Lyft ride as opposed to the hassle and expense of driving their personal vehicle.”

Lyft also claims that their presence has led to a 51 percent increase in spending at local businesses.

The company says that it saves Tampa denizens 143,000 hours a year, which translates into $6.8 million in save travel time value, and they say that 25 percent of those rides start in underserved areas.

There is some interesting data about Lyft drivers as well, such as the fact that 48 percent “self-identity with a minority group”; 20 percent are female, 31 percent of drivers are over 50 years old, and nine percent are over 65.

Lyft did not provide any backup data regarding their survey, which they classify as their “2017 Economic Impact Study.”

While Lyft is now officially in legal compliance with local regulations in Hillsborough County, there are still not uniform rules for transportation network companies throughout Florida. Some state legislators have said they will attempt such legislation to regulate them again in the 2017 session, a sentiment they’ve made in previous years, to no success.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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