Lyft said only 145 people signed up for its low-income Bikeshare for All program by paying cash. Advocates have noted that the option was available at only one location, making it inconvenient.

Lyft may not end cash on bikeshare after all

Last week Lyft announced it would no longer take cash for its Bay Area bikeshare service, Bay Wheels.

But after a community outcry, Lyft is pausing the move — and considering a reversal.

The ride-hail giant was set to announce Thursday that not only will it continue accepting cash for bike rentals, but it will work hand-in-hand with The City to ensure the cash program reaches people who need it.

Supervisor Ahsha Safai, who threatened to draft a new city law to require Lyft to accept cash for its bike rentals, lauded the move.

“I’m working with them to make it more successful, to ensure they expand into communities,” Safai said.

To that end, Safai has reached out to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates bikeshare in The City, and to San Francisco Public Library management to find possible locations within San Francisco for people to pay cash for bikeshare.

A Lyft spokesperson told the San Francisco Examiner there’s no longer a date “when we’re going to flip a switch” to end acceptance of cash payment for its low-income program. “We’re exploring options that best reach our Bikeshare for All members,” Lyft said, in a statement.

Previously, it was going to stop taking cash on January 20 next year.

Lyft moved to end the program after getting few signups for its low-income program Bikeshare for All via cash payments. Only 145 active Bikeshare for All members pay in cash, a Lyft spokesperson said. And finding partner stores or locations — like libraries — that would accept cash on Lyft’s behalf was difficult, advocates said.

So Lyft announced last week that it would accept pre-paid debit and credit cards in lieu of cash, which the company said would meet the same need, as people can pay for those cards with cash.

But community advocates said that wasn’t good enough, and critiqued Lyft’s cash program as being designed to fail. With only one location in San Francisco, in the South of Market neighborhood at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, it was unlikely someone from the Mission or the Excelsior would buy a membership, bicycle and community advocates from Bicis Del Pueblo said.

Now, Safai and community groups will work to ensure those cash bikeshare memberships are available in the neighborhoods they are meant to serve.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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