Lyft finds a place to park in Crystal City

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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Millennials represent Lyft’s primary customer
target group. Photo courtesy Lyft

Many commuters coping with Northern Virginia’s highly congested roadways are turning to the ride-sharing service Lyft to get around.

The San Francisco-based transportation network company recently spent $350,000 opening a mid-Atlantic office in Arlington’s Crystal City.

Launched in 2012, Lyft helps commuters catch rides with friends, classmates and co-workers. Lyft’s smartphone application matches riders with drivers with the tap of a button. “We meet all of our drivers face to face” and conduct extensive background checks, says Steve Taylor, who runs the new regional office. He previously was a  management consultant for PwC.

Lyft sees the Northern Virginia area as a growth market. Nonetheless, the company knew that it could grow only so much “when you are managing a market remotely,” says Taylor. “When a market reaches a certain maturity, we really need people on the ground to establish long-term partnerships and build relationships with drivers.”

Millennials represent Lyft’s prime demographic group. The company especially wants to attract young professionals who have decided they don’t “need a car and forgo the purchase of a car,” Taylor says. “They say, ‘If I take Lyft, I could save money by not buying a car.’ ”

Before setting up an Arlington office, Lyft had a temporary office in Washington, D.C. The Crystal City location, however, is more convenient for many of its drivers. “We have a large concentration of drivers that live in this area,” Taylor says. “We wanted a place where we could provide parking, and people could get in and out easily.”

The new office will provide driver support, handling any issues with pay, policies, services and app functionality. It also leads applicants through the process of becoming Lyft drivers. The company already has hired 15 employees and expects to recruit more. “Our target is 32 jobs, and that is a conservative number,” Taylor says, noting that some of the positions will be in marketing and driver support.

Lyft is available in more than 200 U.S. cities, including eight in Virginia — Alexandria, Arlington, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, Tysons Corner and Virginia Beach.

The state competed against Washington, D.C., for the Lyft project. Arlington officials are pleased that the company is joining the business community. “We’ve made a real commitment to diversifying our economy, and we’re doing that by focusing on attracting fast-growing technology companies like Lyft,” says Victor Hoskins, director of Arlington Economic Development.

“I believe Lyft and companies like it will find success with Arlington’s highly educated workforce and community amenities, and we look forward to working with Lyft as the company expands and thrives in our area,” he says.        

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