Lyft, the popular ride-sharing giant, has opened its first brick-and-mortar facilities in San Antonio, as it continues to raise its national profile throughout the U.S.
Officials from the company unveiled the new San Antonio headquarters and Driver Support Center at 8610 Broadway St., on Thursday, as well as a property at 8770 Crownhill Blvd., to offer Lyft’s Express Drive program, a service that began in the city a few weeks ago.
The Express Drive program allows people to sign up to drive for the company without owning a car. Through a partnership with Hertz, drivers can rent a vehicle to drive for Lyft starting at $209 a week, but if drivers hit certain ridership benchmarks, the fee is reduced to as little as $30.
“This really does open up jobs to the community,” said Janet Peavy, market manager for Lyft San Antonio.
San Antonio is one of dozens of cities where Lyft has established offices and training facilities as part of an initiative to connect with the communities they serve.
“Nationally that is an initiative,” Peavy said. “We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars opening up local hubs just like this. That is an attempt to integrate ourselves into the community, really focus on our driver and make sure they’re cared for and that their needs are met. When we take care of our drivers, that’s taking care of our passengers as well.”
The Driver Support Center will serve as a local outpost for training drivers, dispensing supplies, and taking driver requests. According to a press release, the company is aiming to drive interaction between management and drivers in each of its markets.
Having a local presence also will help the company plan and manage traffic flow during large events, Peavy said.
Locally, officials said there are thousands of drivers on the platform, and the company expects that number to increase with the addition of its local administrative building, out of which seven non-driving Lyft employees will work.
The new facilities have been operational for a few weeks but had not been publically announced until Thursday.
The local headquarters and Driver Support Center comprise 800 square feet but will double by the end of the year, Peavy said. The office is in a newly renovated, four-story commercial building called 86TEN that takes up about 1.5 acres just east of the San Antonio International Airport.
At Thursday’s event, Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3) commended the company for spurring economic growth and innovation in San Antonio as well as helping to reduce the community’s carbon footprint and improving road safety.
Viagran was among the members of the San Antonio City Council to vote for regulations that prompted Uber and Lyft to temporarily stop operating in the city in 2014. She noted the about-face during her remarks by reciting a famous quote: “Those who never change their mind never change anything.”