PHOTO: Lyft is now shuttling some of its riders. (photo via Flickr/Alfredo Mendez)
As ride-sharing continues to gobble up major portions of the ground transportation market, it’s inevitable that further innovation and imitation takes place.
The Verge reports Lyft is currently testing a new service in the San Francisco and Chicago markets that would resemble a (more private) bus ride.
Essentially, you would hop in a Lyft Shuttle at designated areas and ride the route to its destination—much as you would myriad train and bus lines around the nation. The publication likens the service to something you may be using already, Lyft Line.
That particular product is akin to UberPool in that you share the ride with people going the same way.
In Lyft’s case, you would save up to 60 percent off the ride for the inconvenience of having to sidle up next to a stranger. So if you really don’t care how you get there, you can now try out Lyft Shuttle in the above-listed markets and have even less of a say how and where you go.
However, because you don’t get to pick the destination and because you have to share, you are, presumably, getting one heck of a deal. And as the Shuttle service is available during rush hour times—6:30-10 a.m. and 4-8 p.m. (local time)—you will be happy to know that it’s protected from the scourge that is surge pricing.
In an odd twist, the fare is still determined by time and distance instead of a consistent flat fee.
The Verge quotes an unnamed spokesperson who explains: “Lyft Line is the future of rideshare, and we often test new features that we believe will have positive impact on our passengers' transportation options. We look forward to feedback on Shuttle from the Lyft community; we see a number of commuting use cases that this mode will make easier.”
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While presumably offering only as many stops as there are available seats in said Lyft car, this service, as well as those seen with UperPool and Uber Hop, are inching towards the kind you might get with public transportation.
Certainly, more product widens the net of those who might use the technology, but simply walking a few blocks to pick up a Lyft Shuttle only to walk a couple more at your destination may lead to an “Aha!” moment for some.
It might be easier, cheaper and do the city some good if they used a service that has been around for far longer than their respective smartphones. Maybe it’s time many of us better embrace (and fund) public transportation and its simple genius. Granted, as The Next Web states, Lyft Shuttle is only available if you are close to the route.
Still, there has long been a solution for people to get from Point A to Point B, as long as they don’t mind a couple of stops and sharing the cabin with a group of "pleasant" strangers.