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A Lyft driver center. Photo: Lyft

Just one day after protesting drivers forced Lyft to move its IPO roadshow meeting in San Francisco (while others went on strike in Los Angeles after Lyft competitor Uber cut its per-mile pay rates), the company is announcing new, long-planned initiatives it says are aimed at reducing drivers’ expenses.

The big picture: As Lyft prepares to go public, it's still grappling with ride-hailing drivers' top complaint: insufficient earnings. The company is aiming to help them not by giving them a bigger slice of their fares (which it could do by cutting its commissions), but rather by cutting the drivers' costs.

What Lyft is doing:

  • Lyft Direct: Lyft is introducing a bank account and debit card for drivers that lets them access their earnings instantly and get cash back on certain purchases like food and gas, and no banking fees. Lyft has partnered with Stride Bank for this.
  • Vehicle service centers: Lyft is revamping its driver hubs, adding car repair services it says will be much cheaper for drivers (Lyft will price them at cost, according to COO Jon McNeill). It's also adding services drivers can book via their smartphones.
  • Express Drive: The company is also expanding its car rental program for drivers to add more locations and make more electric vehicles available. According to McNeill, electric cars help drivers save $100 per week compared to gasoline cars.

Why it matters: Lyft's new initiatives aren't just an effort to offset complaints about wages — they're also critical as it continues to battle for drivers' loyalty. Acquiring new drivers is costly for both Uber and Lyft, so any perks that keep a driver happy and driving for longer helps the companies’ bottom line. Just last year, Lyft's net losses totaled nearly $1 billion, as its IPO filing recently revealed.

Lyft's response to the protests:

Lyft also has a strong track record of helping drivers increase their earnings, and has led the industry in initiatives like in-app tipping, same-day payments, access to affordable rental vehicles, and more.  We are always open to conversations around how we can make Lyft better for drivers, but what we hear from the majority is that this is a flexible option that works for them.

Go deeper

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to form team to solve consulate dispute

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) meet in Washington. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel are planning to form a joint team to hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: The consulate handled relations with the Palestinians for 25 years before being shut down by then President Donald Trump in 2019. Senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government see the consulate issue as a political hot potato that could destabilize their unwieldy coalition.

Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to Parkland school shooting

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz at the defense table during jury selection at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Oct. 6, 2021. Photo: Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday pleaded guilty on all counts for carrying out the 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, including 14 students and three staff members.

Driving the news: Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty at a hearing on Wednesday to 17 murder counts and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for carrying out the deadly shooting.

3 hours ago - Health

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies, to administer the shots.

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