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Lyft begins testing shuttle service in San Francisco and Chicago

It’s like public transit, but who gets to use it?

 

Christina Bonnington

Tech

As Uber battles to save face after allegations of a hostile, sexist work environment, people have been wondering: Why isn’t Lyft taking advantage of its competitor’s debacle? Instead of capitalizing on Uber’s workplace problems, Lyft has been tackling a new issue: semi-public transit.

As an extension of its Lyft Line carpool program, Lyft is introducing a new service, Lyft Shuttle. Like a public bus line, Lyft Shuttle will run on a fixed route with specific pick-up and drop-off spots. For now, the service will only operate during rush hour—from 6:30pm to 10am in the mornings, and 4:00pm to 8:00pm in the evenings—in two markets, Chicago and San Francisco. Lyft users interested in trying this alternative out for their daily commute will be able to see the new “Shuttle” option when looking for rides through the app.

A Lyft spokesperson told the Verge that fares will be fixed at a “low price point” still determined by ride time and distance. While the exact fare charges aren’t clear just yet, Lyft Shuttle pricing would not be affected by surge or Prime Time inflations.

Other details are also still up in the air, such as how often drivers will patrol these routes and make stops.

Back in 2015, Uber also dabbled in bus-style transportation with its “Smart Routes,” but it never seemed to have gained much traction. Perhaps with its fixed pick-up points and a predetermined schedule, Lyft will have more success in this area than Uber did.

It will be interesting to see what routes and neighborhoods Lyft Shuttle will end up serving. Will it offer transit in the most popular, already-congested commuting pathways? Or will it be a driving alternative for folks not currently well-served by their city’s public transit? If it opts for the former in San Francisco, this could cause further traffic problems as city buses and tech shuttles already regularly service those areas. If it includes routes for the latter, however, Lyft could help convince would-be drivers to instead Lyft to work—and end up improving traffic.

Lyft Shuttle is debuting soon, with discounted rides for those who partake before April 30.

H/T the Verge

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