How Uber and Lyft Are Transforming a Night Out

The advent of transportation apps, such as Uber and Lyft, have made it possible for people to relax a bit more while out on the town. That’s because the companies provide a safe, reliable and affordable way to get home. Small businesses that serve alcohol are seeing a difference.

“Uber and Lyft are providing people with a way to enjoy their night out without having to worry about getting home,” explained Alex McKelvie, associate professor of entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management. “Now, they can have a few more drinks at the restaurant or bar, and ultimately spend more money.”

Professor McKelvie said the days of bartenders taking the keys and calling a cab for a patron that had one too many will soon be over. “It’s less of a psychological barrier for people to push buttons on their smartphone to catch a ride, rather than have a bartender call you out for drinking a little too much,” he explained.

So, customers are able to stay a little later, enjoying a drink or two more; lining the pockets of restaurants, bars, and even local sports venues.

Not only are small businesses profiting from the new transportation options but the roads are safer, too. The Austin, Texas Police Department tracks DUI rates in the city. Its data found that with Uber operating in the city, there were an average of 438 drunk driving arrests per month; when Uber left, that number climbed to 525. In New York City, an independent study by City University of New York, found the arrival of Uber and Lyft coincided with 40 fewer collisions per month, a decrease of nearly 35 percent.

“Uber and Lyft represent peace of mind for bar and restaurant owners,” said Professor McKelvie. “One way for these businesses to further capitalize on this new good fortune is to consider partnering with the transportation companies to offer coupon codes or discounts, further encouraging people to not only enjoy themselves with a few more glasses of wine, but also encourage good decision making so they arrive home safely at the end of the night.”