Business travelers have a new favorite way to get around

A Lyft car in San Francisco.

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A Lyft car in San Francisco.

There’s a growing shift in the way business travelers are getting around. Instead of taking a taxi or renting a car, they’re increasingly opting for ride-hailing.

Certify, which processed more than 10 million expense reports in the fourth quarter, found that business travelers took Uber or Lyft more than half of the time. That’s a noticeable jump from the prior-year period, when only 42 percent reported using those services.

“Increasingly, we are seeing the business traveler say, ‘I’ll just take an Uber or Lyft,'” said Bob Neveu, president of Certify.

The growth in ride-hailing has been weighing on taxi operators for several years, as millennials in U.S. cities increasingly choose Uber or Lyft. Taxi companies have likewise been hit harder by business travelers’ changing habits.

While 20 percent of business travelers said they took a taxi in the fourth quarter of 2015, that number fell to 11 percent during the same period last year.

Ride-hailing among corporate travelers took off in 2016, according to Certify. The firm attributes that shift to the fact that larger companies, who have more than 1,000 employees, have begun adding Uber and Lyft to their approved vendor lists. That makes it easier to file an expense report for those rides.

There’s no definitive way to tell how much of the increase in reported usage is the result of these changes to their filing systems, Certify said.

“For a lot of business travelers, it comes down to what’s easiest on the road,” Neveu said. “Until last year, many companies were not set up to handle ride-share charges. That’s changed, and as a result, more people are taking Uber or Lyft when they are on the road.”

Lyft, which does not have the coast-to-coast reach of Uber, accounted for only a small percentage of Certify expense reports. The company plans to expand its service to dozens of new cities in 2017.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.

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