Lyft starts its long-awaited international expansion in December, beginning with Toronto

Lyft starts its long-awaited international expansion in December, beginning with Toronto
Credit: Lyft / Instagram

Lyft has long been a US-exclusive service, but not for much longer. Starting from December, residents of the greater Toronto Area and Hamilton will be able to use the popular Uber-alternative.

Torontonians will be able to order Lyft Plus, Lyft Premiere, Lyft Lux, and Lyft Lux SUV rides, as well as the bog-standard Lyft product. The company also plans to recruit drivers, although it’s yet to unveil its fare rates, or how big the drivers’ slice of the pie will be. In the States, Lyft drivers tend to earn more than their counterparts at Uber. I’d be surprised if this trend doesn’t continue up North.

Toronto is actually a pretty smart place for Lyft to start it expansion. For starters, it has a head-start when it comes to customer acquisition, as over 50,000 city residents have the app installed on their phones, at least according to company co-founder John Zimmer. That’s not surprising, considering its proximity to several major US cities. You can fly from Toronto to New York, Washington, and Philadelphia in less than two hours.

But it won’t be easy. Uber has existed in Toronto for five years, and has a strong foothold as a result of being both cheap and ubiquitous. Lyft can also expect stiff competition from the traditional taxi industry, which is a vocal opponent of Uber’s presence in the city. Earlier today, the Operations Manager of Toronto’s biggest taxi company, Beck Taxis, tweeted the following:

In general, Canada looks like a place ripe for expansion for Lyft. Data from Boston-based app analytics firm Apptopia shows Canadians are downloading the Lyft app at a rate of 25,000 times per month, as of July. Its data shows the app has 100,000 daily active users. That’s impressive, considering the service has yet to actually launch in Canada. According to Apptopia’s Adam Blacker, these trends are usually indicative of an impending launch.

We’ve reached out to Lyft for more details. If we hear back from them, we’ll update this piece.

UPDATE: Lyft got in touch to say that they’re beginning their outreach to drivers from today. Additional information on timing will come over the next few weeks.

In addition, Susie Heath, spokesperson for Uber Canada, emailed to say that Uber welcomes the new competition in Toronto, saying:

At Uber, we welcome competition that encourages the use of more transportation alternatives. More options can help reduce congestion and pollution as consumers increasingly make the switch from driving their own car to using shared mobility services.”

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