Lyft car-compressed
Photo: Raido/Flickr

With 30,000 Uber-affiliated cars now in New York, the widely-used yet controversial ride-sharing app is more popular than ever.

But even as Uber’s popularity grows, one of its biggest competitors, Lyft, appears to be taking a bite out of its late-night ridership.

According to a recent analysis posted on the NYC data blog I Quant NY, the proportion of rides given by Uber and Lyft are nearly even at 2am. Although Uber still dominates the ridesharing market at all times of day, Lyft’s proportion of trips increases dramatically between the hours of 10pm and 5am.

I Quant NY, a blog run by statistics professor Ben Wellington, also noted that when it comes to rides provided, Uber usage tops out during the evening rush while Lyft sees its largest surge of riders around midnight.

In his post, Wellington speculated that this was because of the two services’ different clienteles.

“I always assumed that Lyft’s pink mustaches might appeal more to a younger crowd, but the data backs that up. So if you are wondering what the difference is between driving for Uber and Lyft, it’s night and day,” he wrote.

The Lyft and Uber trip data used by Wellington was retrieved by popular stats analysis site FiveThirtyEight from the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission through a Freedom of Information Law request. FiveThirtyEight then posted the data on Github.

Although the trip data covers the period from April 2014 to September 2014, it does point to Lyft’s ongoing efforts to market to a younger demographic.

Through the summer, Lyft introduced a $5 ride zone in Manhattan if a ride started and ended south of 97th Street. In September, the offer, known as a “Lyft Line,” was extended to a zone in Brooklyn.

While Uber remains the dominant presence in New York and other US markets, Lyft has emerged as its most serious competitor in the US. Founded in 2012, Lyft has already raised more than $1 billion (as of May 2015) from big name investors including Carl Icahn and Andreessen Horowitz.

Its business model is nearly identical to Uber’s. Both companies offer comparable pricing for standard fares and introduce “surge pricing” when demand is high. Both apps have very similar design, and the companies have even found themselves in legal entanglements over intellectual property and copyright. (http://time.com/3561353/lyft-uber-lawsuit-travis-vanderzanden/)

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