Forget Uber, Lyft has its sights set on a new competitor – buses.
The ride-hailing app is introducing a pilot program in San Francisco and Chicago that mirrors the bus service model with fixed routes and flat rates.
Called Shuttle, users walk to predetermined pick-up points, rather than meeting the driver at their exact location, and are also dropped off at a spot along the fixed route.
Shuttle will be available during rush hour – 6:30 AM to 10 AM and then again at 4 PM to 8 PM. Users input their pickup location and the app will present predetermined locations for them to meet their driver.They will also be given walking directions to the spot.The drop-off location is also a predetermined spot – users will have to walk to their exact destination. The service mimics the use service model in that it runs along fixed routes and offers flat rates.
Shuttle will only be an option during rush hour (6:30 AM to 10 AM and then again at 4 PM to 8 PM), however, unlike rides during commuting hours, these trips won’t be subject to surge pricing.
Lyft said that the price will vary depending on the length of the trip.
If you are near a Shuttle route during those time frames, ‘Shuttle’ will appear as an option in the app and if selected, it will share walking directions to the pickup spot with the user.
The new service is an extension to the firm’s carpool service, Lyft Line, which lets riders share trips with others going the along the same route – similar to uberPool.
‘Lyft Line is the future of rideshare, and we often test new features that we believe will have a positive impact on our passengers’ transportation options,’ a Lyft spokesperson said.
‘We look forward to feedback on Shuttle from the Lyft community [and] we see a number of commuting use cases that this mode will make easier.’
The announcement comes at a time when Uber’s reputation is being tarnished by controversies, but seems to give Lyft the boost it needs to accelerate its expansion by taking a friendlier, more sympathetic approach with customers.
The most recent Uber woe included CEO Travis Kalanick, who was caught on camera shouting ‘bulls***’ at driver Fawzi Kamel who confronted him at the end of a Super Bowl Sunday ride in San Francisco for lowering the prices of black car rides.
A video of their heated exchange surfaced of the encounter in February, adding to Uber’s mounting pile of controversies that include whispers of sexual harassment plaguing the company.
Lyft even mocked Uber in an advertising campaign late last year, depicting leaders of an imaginary ‘RideCorp’ firm that appeared to be a reference to its market-leading competitor.
The supposed executives sat in a black-walled conference room discussing how to defeat Lyft.
Each short video clip focused on undermining what Lyft touts as advantages, such as extensiveness driver background checks and letting passengers tip drivers (something Uber has firmly opposed).
Lyft also took a stand in January against US President Donald Trump’s first anti-immigration executive order, announcing a million-dollar donation to the American Civil Liberties Union to help fund legal opposition.
Meanwhile, Kalanick was on track to be part of a Trump business advisory group and a movement grew to dump the ride-sharing service because of his connection to the administration.
Ride-hailing service Lyft, the underdog rival to Uber, is getting rid of its iconic pink mustache logo and replacing it with something more useful — beacons. The light-up beacons, which Lyft calls ‘amps,’ will be on the dashboard of Lyft drivers’ cars beginning Jan. 1 in New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles.Beacons can communicate with people’s smartphones using Bluetooth technology. In retail stores, this means guiding you to a certain shoe display, for example.With Lyft, it means having your driver’s beacon light up a specific color once he or she is near. You can have your phone light up in that same color, too, then hold it up so the driver can see you. Lyft says this will make it easier and safer for drivers and riders to find each other. This can be especially helpful at night, or in crowded areas where multiple people might be hailing a ride.
Kalanick quit the group, putting out word in an email to employees that the move was not meant as an ‘endorsement of the president or his agenda.’
Uber also took heat for how the service reacted to a taxi strike at a major New York City airport to protest Trump’s initial anti-immigration order, winding up accused of trying to undermine the protest. Uber said its response was misinterpreted.
Lyft saw downloads of its mobile application climb as a ‘DeleteUber campaign picked up speed on Twitter.
The campaign got renewed momentum in recent weeks after accusations of sexism, cut-throat management, and a toxic work environment at Uber surfaced.
Last week, Uber acknowledged the use of a secret software program to steer drivers away from trouble, including sting operations by local authorities to catch law-breakers.
Lyft was founded in 2012, three years after Uber, and is also based in San Francisco but is smaller.
Lyft has attracted a few investors, including General Motors, Alibaba, and Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding.
While Uber has expanded internationally, Lyft has concentrated mostly on the US.
Early this year, Lyft expanded to a hundred more US cities, bringing the total to about 300.
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