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This article was published on June 20, 2017


San Francisco is mad that Lyft Shuttle is basically a bus service

San Francisco is mad that Lyft Shuttle is basically a bus service
Abhimanyu Ghoshal
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Abhimanyu Ghoshal

Managing Editor

Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and culture. Hit him up on Twitter, or write in: [email protected].

Back in March, we heard about Lyft’s plans to run a fixed-route shared ride service called Shuttle, starting with trials in a couple of US cities. It’s now kicked off in San Francisco, and it doesn’t sound like everyone’s warming up to the idea:

Salon’s story about it from yesterday is titled, “The Lyft Shuttle is pretty much a glorified city bus — with fewer poor people“, while SFGate went with “Critics call out Lyft for reinventing the bus with its new ‘Shuttle’ feature“. On Twitter, you’ll find folks firing shots like this:

But I’ve gotta ask: SF, why you so mad?

Yes, Shuttle operates on the same principle as a bus. I get that. But if people are choosing to use Shuttle, there’s clearly a need for a service like this that public transport isn’t addressing.

Salon made a couple of points that are worth addressing: one, that venture-backed Lyft could potentially use its funding to undersell its competitor and eventually ruin public transit – and two, that Shuttle routes currently run between wealthier parts of town to downtown and financial district.

Before blaming Lyft for creating a divide, it might be worth looking into the commuting habits of these initial Shuttle users to understand whether they’re sharing a fixed-route ride in lieu of taking the bus, or of taking a ride in a private vehicle (single-passenger cab or driving their own car). Without that data, it’s hard to describe Shuttle’s impact in the city – is it getting more cars off the road or getting people out of buses and into cabs?

Oh, and we’re talking about a service that literally began trials a day ago. Maybe we should wait a while before deciding to crucify it outright.

Have you tried Lyft Shuttle? Let us know your thoughts on the service and its implications in the comments to help with a follow-up story.

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