Lyft, Allstate Arity executives share visions of post-pandemic normal

  • Business Insider hosted a webinar with executives from Lyft and Arity, Allstate’s data arm, on Thursday.
  • Both said driving volumes had plummeted, but for Lyft it meant less business and for Allstate it meant saving money and returning it to customers.
  • Going forward, they’re anticipating a new normal and more time spent working from home and with family. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The impact the coronavirus on America’s ingrained car culture was immediate and profound.

For Lyft, it meant a dramatic dip in requests for rides as people sheltered in place. And because others weren’t driving to work like usual, fewer accidents meant plenty of savings for insurance companies.

Gary Hallgren, who runs Arity, Allstate’s transportation analytics arm, saw it in the data.

“Driving really just fell off a cliff in the middle of March as you would expect,” he said on a Business Insider webinar with Angie Westbrock, Lyft’s vice president of operations, on Thursday. For Lyft, it meant not only less revenue, but also a lack of work for the drivers on its app. That’s why the company began to flirt with delivery options for its workers to bring essential supplies and food to communities in need.

And while the pandemic is clearly far from over, their focus has now turned to what the “new normal” might look like on the other side. One thing both executives were optimistic about as others worry: traffic could continue to go down and car ownership could decrease, a key tenet of Lyft’s business model.

“No doubt there will be changes,” Westbrock said. “We do think there is going to be some impactful trends around consumer behavior, maybe choosing to avoid public transit in favor of rideshare or bikes and scooters. We’re here and know we’ll play an increasingly important role on the other side of this. I’m very optimistic looking forward.”

Even with fewer people on buses and trains, traffic could still go down if they realize working from home is a viable options. Hallgren, for instance, used to commute every single week from Southern California to Chicago.

“In some ways I didn’t know how much the travel was beating me down,” he said. “Now after this people may realize working from home is actually working.”

And despite the distance, Westbrock said she was connecting with coworkers on a new level.

“I’ve had dinner with my family every single night for last couple of months and I can’t say that was the case before,” she said. “My daughter knows she can come in and peek in and see me whenever she wants. This has changed the etiquette of what is acceptable. My entire team knows my children now, they know [she’s] going to ask for Oreo’s and it’s all okay. It’s really brought this reminder of what truly matters and what we value and has made us rethink how demanding all of our lives are.”

Now, Arity is turning its data gathering to the recovery. While the dropoff was fairly uniform, Hallgren said, citing Arity’s billions of miles of data it can collect in a matter of days.

“To me the real insight will be as things open back up,” he said. “Our data is showing Wyoming is looking almost like things were before, but DC is still down 70% and other East Coast cities still down a great deal.”


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