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New Lyft app will give directions to scooters, public transit across LA

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The update is meant to help users plan multimodal trips

John Sequeira/Curbed LA Flickr pool

As Lyft launches e-scooters in Los Angeles today, the ride-hailing company announced it has expanded an app update to help residents find its dockless vehicles and connect to public transit in LA.

Users in LA who have updated the Lyft app will see a feature where they can view nearby transit routes with real-time arrival information, as well as the distance to the nearest Lyft scooters, which will start out on the Westside in Venice, Westwood, Sawtelle, Mar Vista, and Brentwood.

Lyft users in Santa Monica can also find scooters and transit stops.

Instead of routing a car to the user’s location, typing in a destination will allow users to switch between modes, and provide walking or riding directions to the nearest scooter or transit stop.

Scooters will be shown in Lyft’s app, which will also provide walking directions to the nearest vehicle.

The new app feature, originally launched in September as a complement to the rollout of scooters in Santa Monica, marks a notable shift in Lyft’s strategy. Although the startup was purportedly founded with a goal of reducing car ownership, in recent years Uber and Lyft have been blamed for making traffic worse by adding more trips to already-congested cities and taking riders away from transit.

Now the ride-hailing company is providing data and access to vehicles that can make it easier for its users to avoid cars altogether.

Adding transit and scooters is part of Lyft’s mission to take 1 million cars off the road by the end of 2019, according to a blog post by Lyft co-founder John Zimmer. Recently the company announced that it was offsetting all its emissions with renewable energy in an effort to go completely carbon-neutral.

In September, Santa Monica launched its 18-month scooter and e-bike program with recently selected partners Uber, Lyft, Bird, and Lime. It was the second city to debut Lyft’s scooters, which launched in Denver earlier that same month. Lyft also has a permit to deploy e-bikes in Santa Monica, but hasn’t launched them yet.

Lyft’s e-scooters and e-bikes will be direct competitors to Uber’s Jump e-bikes, which are also on LA’s Westside now, and Jump scooters, which the rival ride-hailing company debuted in Santa Monica in October.

How the app’s e-bike and transit integration might work, from Lyft’s proposal to the city of Santa Monica.

Many trip-planning apps are providing more multimodal information. Uber recently redesigned its app with an option to toggle to “bike or scooter” and plans to add transit and rental car information as well.

Trip-planning apps Transit and Citymapper, which already integrate public transit, ride-hailing, and walking directions, have recently added the ability to locate bike and scooter rentals. Transit also recently debuted the ability to coordinate transit itineraries with ride-hailing services.

Lyft scooters on the ground in Santa Monica.
Carter Rubin

Besides making it easier to connect with public transit, Lyft is also partnering with transit agencies. In Santa Monica, Lyft provides $3 late-night rides from Expo Line stations from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. and the city is mulling replacing three low-ridership Big Blue Bus lines with subsidized Lyft rides as well.