When is Lyft coming to Australia?

Angus Kidman 14 September 2017

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Uber can't have the place all to itself.

It's not unusual for whole areas of technology to be dominated by a single provider. Netflix is the biggest name in streaming TV. Spotify is the ruler of streaming music. Pornhub is the place to go for, ahem, skin flicks. And Uber is the biggest name in ride sharing.

There are plenty of rivals to Uber, including local service GoCatch. One international competitor that gets mentioned a lot is Lyft.

Lyft has been running in the US since 2012, but hasn't yet expanded into other countries. While Lyft executives have made occasional appearances at Australian tech events, the official company line is that the service will remain US-only for now.

Superficially, there's not much to distinguish Lyft and Uber. Both rely on you booking your ride through an app; both have surge pricing during periods of high demand (Lyft's a-little-too-cute label for the practice is "prime time"). So the appeal of Lyft coming down under rests largely on one idea: the notion that more competition would make prices cheaper.

That wouldn't necessarily be the case, however. As a driver, your base costs are going to be very similar whichever ride-sharing service you work for. At a certain point, the prices can't get any lower if you're going to scratch together any sort of living. Underscoring that point, Uber put its own prices up earlier this year.

One potential advantage Lyft might enjoy if it does come down under is that many of the big legal battles over ride sharing have been fought. Bans on Uber at airports are steadily tumbling. But for all that, it wouldn't surprise me if Lyft decides to stick to its US-only approach for a good while yet.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.

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