Fresh off the information that it’s opening its first everlasting workplace in New York City, Lyft introduced right this moment that it has employed away a notable pricing professional from Uber to badist it work out the way it can play a extra proactive function in shaping the cities of the long run.
Garrett van Ryzin, a professor at Columbia Business School and Cornell Tech, will lead Lyft’s new Marketplace Labs, the place he’ll oversee a workforce of utilized scientists and technologists engaged on enhancing the present ride-sharing expertise and higher integrating Lyft with public transportation programs. He will report on to Lyft’s new head of engineering, Luc Vincent, who has been tasked with main the corporate’s quest to develop its personal self-driving automobile expertise.
In an interview, van Ryzin mentioned his objective is to “make the market more efficient — so all the things that have to do with matching and dispatching of drivers and pricing of the market and providing information to help balance the market.”
In different phrases, every part that makes Lyft Lyft: the pace at which a driver responds to your experience request, the size of time it takes to reach at your location, and the fare you pay on the finish of the journey. While at Uber, van Ryzin helped make the argument that surge pricing was a device to extend rider effectivity reasonably than a back-handed manner for Uber to make more cash. He additionally noticed the potential for a similar mannequin to alter pricing methods in different industries. Of course, most customers simply noticed it as a vital evil, at the same time as they groused about having to pay more cash in periods of peak demand. (Lyft has its personal model of surge pricing that it calls Prime Time.)
And whereas van Ryzin is engaged on enhancing market effectivity, he’ll even be pondering bigger, extra consequential points for Lyft, similar to its place within the metropolis of tomorrow. This previous summer time, Lyft introduced that it will start hiring tons of of engineers to develop its personal autonomous expertise. It additionally described its product of the long run as an “open platform,” wherein any of its companions within the self-driving house may plug into and start providing journeys. Van Ryzin mentioned his job might be to optimize that course of.
“How do you develop a marketplace you can plug anything into,” he requested. “You can plug human-driven ride-sharing vehicles into, you can plug in public transit links, you can plug in autonomous vehicles. Anything that would potentially get a person from A-to-B, you can synchronize and optimize with the same platform of marketplace technology.”
If that sounds too Columbia Business School-ish in your tastes, van Ryzin boils it down like this: “To me, it’s about how all these modes of transportation integrate… how do you smash all that stuff together seamlessly.”
In the long run, somebody may open up their Lyft app (if apps are nonetheless round) and see “a menu of options” for a way they might get to the place they should go, van Ryzin mentioned. “Basically you wouldn’t have to think about the combinations, we’d do that for you,” he added.
In addition to connecting riders and drivers, Lyft additionally thinks of itself as badume tank for city planning of the long run. Co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green have written essays on the transition to autonomous automobiles and proposals for ending visitors congestion. Creating a brand new division of utilized scientists to crack a few of transportation’s most intractable issues appears to be an extension of that.
Of course, latest research recommend that the influence of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft will not be solely benign. A brand new nationwide report by the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies discovered that ride-hailing apps have solely triggered a slight lower in automobile possession. Meanwhile, as individuals use these apps extra, they’re utilizing public transportation much less. Many journeys that might be made by foot, bicycle, or through public transit are actually made by ride-hailing companies.
From his perch at Lyft, van Ryzin says he plans to proceed to review the bodily influence of ride-sharing and autonomous automobiles on city avenue life. “There’s an entrenched set of interests around current modes of transportation,” he mentioned. “But a lot of cities are outgrowing that. And I expect Lyft to play a big part.”