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Lyft begins testing monthly subscription plans

For an upfront fee, frequent users of the service get a certain number of free rides each month.

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Lyft has begun testing monthly subscription plans for frequent users, a sign the ride-hailing startup is serious about moving to a Netflix-like subscription business model.

The company has sent invitations to users for its All-Access Plans, which offer a set number of free rides each month for an upfront payment. The San Francisco-based company is testing several pricing tiers, with one invitation outlining a service offering 60 free rides (up to $15) for $400 up front each month, while another invitation offers 30 free rides for $250 per month. One in New York City costs $250.

While Lyft customers appear to have only recently begun receiving the invitations, a Lyft spokesman said the company has been testing the plans for a few months.

"We're always testing new ways to provide passengers the most affordable and flexible transportation options," the spokesman said in a statement.

Subscription plans are apparently a key component of the company's plans for its future.  

"The ideal scenario is moving to a subscription model," CEO Logan Green said in a conference call Thursday.

The test underscores the competition to grow market share in the ride-hailing business, which is dominated by Lyft and its larger rival Uber. Lyft reported revenue growth of 168 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with Uber's 61 percent.

Lyft is hoping to give Uber a run for its money by adding more cities and drivers to its roster and tightening its belt with marketing expenses. It's also benefited from the rough 2017 Uber experienced, including dozens of scandals and a rotating door of executives.

Lyft's subscription plan can be used on any standard ride where Lyft operates in the US. Users who take rides that exceed the $15 limit pay the balance.

Lyft gave no timetable for when or if this would be offered more widely.

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