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Lyft offers $550 credit to prove city-dwellers can live without a car

Ride-share companies often suggest that their services mean people no longer need to own a car, and Lyft is aiming to prove it – by offering a $550 credit to ditch private car usage for a month …

The Verge reports that the company is offering the challenge to 100 car owners in Chicago.

Starting in August, the ride-hailing company will offer 100 residents of Chicago $550 each in credit to Lyft and several other mobility services if they ditch their personal vehicles for a month. It’s a bold, if slightly gimmicky, way to highlight the high costs associated with car ownership, while also promoting cheaper alternatives of getting around.

To be sure, Lyft isn’t handing over $550 checks to people and then sending them on their way. The money will come with strings attached. Those who accept the challenge to put away their car keys for 30 days will get $300 in Lyft shared ride credit (for use in carpool trips only), $45 for a monthly Divvy bike-share pass, $100 in Zipcar credit, and $105 for “L” train and bus service.

Lyft says that it will trust participants not to cheat, though it does encourage them to post about their experiences on social media, and will conduct both pre- and post-experience interviews.

We want to follow them. We want to hear their stories. We want to see how their feelings about driving have changed. We want to see if they’re saving money. We want to see if they’re having less stress. We want to see if they got more work done or were able to read a book because they didn’t have to drive.

The company says that as well as wanting to prove that ditching a car is possible, it also wants to demonstrate that it saves money.

Owning a car in Chicago can cost as much as $13,000, or over $1,000 a month, for fuel, parking, maintenance, and general upkeep.

However, a recent report did suggest that ride-sharing companies increase, rather than decrease, traffic congestion.

Personally, I need no convincing. Having moved into central London last year, I found that I used my car exactly once in six months. I’ve since handed it over to a friend who lives outside of London, and I get around with a mix of walking, cycling, public transport and (twice) Uber. Walking and cycling make up most of my journeys. However, I suspect not having kids may be a vital component when it comes to practicality …

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