Uber’s big rival in carpooling | Lyft prepares the ground in Quebec

Uber’s great rival in North America, the carpooling company Lyft is preparing the ground to establish itself in Quebec, has been able to confirm The Press. This Californian multinational interacts with the Legault government to familiarize itself with the regulatory framework of the province.

Established in San Francisco, the company whose market value is close to 6.7 billion on the stock market did not respond to our questions sent by email seeking to know its intentions regarding the Quebec market, more precisely in the region of Montreal. According to our information, it is a matter of months before things come to fruition.

A sign of Lyft’s renewed interest in Quebec, its government relations manager, Doug Mehan, based in New York, registered last Friday in the Quebec register of lobbyists. Its mandate is clear: it aims to obtain “the permits and authorizations necessary for the operation of a transport system”. Discussions are underway with the Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility (MTMD) as well as with the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ).

“If it is for the benefit of users and in compliance with the Act respecting the remunerated transportation of persons by automobilethe arrival of a new player is viewed favorably by our government,” indicated Maxime Roy, director of communications for the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Geneviève Guilbault, in a statement, emphasizing that the “Price transparency” was important.

Montreal is the only city identified by Lyft in its registration in the lobbyist register.

The company specializes in carpooling, vehicle rental, electric scooter and meal delivery services. It is also this company which got its hands, in April 2022, on the concept of BIXI, by buying PBSC Solutions Urbaines for 215 million. It was already present in the metropolis following its acquisition of Motivate – a self-service bicycle operator – in 2018, which has an office in Montreal, where around fifty people work.

On Tuesday, it was not possible to know what the range of services offered by the multinational in the province would be. Elsewhere in the country, Lyft is present in Ontario, Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton) as well as British Columbia (Vancouver).

Different context

The possible arrival of Lyft should take place in a less tense context compared to the breakthrough of Uber a decade ago. The taxi industry was deregulated following the Act respecting the remunerated transportation of persons by automobilepresented in 2019. This change made it possible to regularize platforms like Uber.

Only vehicles designated as taxis can continue to be hailed by a customer and pick up customers at specific waiting stations, in particular. The taxi permit system has been abolished. In the Montreal region, Lyft would establish itself in a competitive environment where we already find Uber as well as Taxelco, also owner of the Taxi Diamond and Taxi Hochelaga brands. In the industry, Lyft’s interest in the Quebec market is not surprising.

“I think it will be riskier for Uber,” explains a major player in the industry in the Montreal region, who asks not to be named. This is Lyft’s strategy. They always arrive after Uber has cleared the market. I’m not surprised. »

According to the site specializing in the carpooling niche Gridwise, the overall hourly remuneration offered by Uber (US$21.14) was higher than that of Lyft (US$19.90) in 2022. This specialized site has not yet carried out the comparison for last year.

This is not the first time that Uber’s North American rival has had its eyes on Quebec. Quebecor media reported the multinational’s interest in 2018. Nothing materialized at the time.

Two new actors?

Lyft could have company by setting up in Quebec in 2024. A European competitor, Bolt, which is present in more than 500 cities around the world, also wants to expand its activities in the metropolis. The name of this company established in Estonia has also just appeared in the Quebec register of lobbyists.

There is, however, a notable difference between Bolt and the two other carpooling services (Uber and Lyft): the European platform has not yet made a breakthrough in North America. It may have its work cut out for it in a market where Uber and Lyft compete.

According to Bolt’s registration, made public last Thursday, the service wishes to “plan the establishment of automobile transportation services in Montreal.” Bolt must contact the MTMD, the SAAQ and the Commission des transports du Québec.

Lyft at a glance

  • Year of launch: 2012
  • Headquarters: San Francisco
  • Geographic presence: nearly 660 cities in Canada and the United States
  • Revenue (2023): US4.4 billion
  • Net loss: 340 million US

Learn more

  • US$16.66
    Lyft stock price as of Tuesday’s NASDAQ close.


    Year Lyft went public.


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