Traditionally, Lyft and other car-sharing services act exactly like taxis. They pick you up and drop you off at your destination. Today Lyft introduced Lyft Line, a new service that acts more like a tiny bus than a taxi.
Lyft Line works like this: Let’s say you need to get downtown so you fire up the ol’ Lyft app and since you’re totally cool riding with strangers to save a few bucks (Lyft says you can save up to 60 percent compared to a regular Lyft ride), you choose Lyft Line as the service you want to hail. The Lyft servers then scour the area along your route to your destination and find up to two other people who also need a ride. The algorithmic processing takes a few minute and you’re presented with a driver arrival time and a price.
You could be the first person along that route or the third. What Lyft is betting on is that you’re not in a huge hurry to get to your destination and you’re cool with a few pit stops and detours. Plus, you want to save money.
To make sure an inconsiderate riders don’t bog down the whole system, all riders are expected to be outside waiting for the ride. Drivers are instructed to wait no more than a few minutes and leave.
If you pick Lyft Line and the service can’t find other passengers, according to Lyft, you’ll still get a 10 percent discount on your ride. But, for your first ride Lyft Line ride, you can cruise to your destination for free (up to $25). So go ahead and book that ride to SFO.
In a move that seems suspect, Uber introduced a similar service yesterday called UberPool. While Lyft launches today to everyone in San Francisco, UberPool launches August 15 to a limited number of riders.
Lyft Line is the brainchild of David Dryjanski and Lev Popov before their company Rover was acquired by Lyft, their app Rover created a similar service by hacking Lyft’s APIs.
So the next time you’re crammed in a car with two strangers and you’re all on your way to the Mission District in San Francisco, you can thank David and Lev.