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6 min read

    6 min read

    Today, Lyft is announcing new changes for drivers around the country. Lyft’s new program, known as Lyft Preferred, will reward some drivers while charging passengers more for this ‘preferred’ service. Senior RSG contributor Jay Cradeur shares what the new Lyft Preferred program is, how it will affect drivers, and why Lyft is doing this.

    With all of Uber’s recent changes for drivers in California, we knew it would only be a matter of time before Lyft copied some of Uber’s changes. However, with this new update, Lyft is changing the game for some drivers around the country – not just California.

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    In this case, Lyft is looking for yet another way to turn their rideshare company into a profitable business.  Today Lyft has announced a new passenger option called “Lyft Preferred.”

    In this article, I will provide you with all the details and offer my opinion about this latest Lyft innovation.

    Quick links:

    lyft preferred

    What is Lyft Preferred?

    Lyft Preferred is not so much an innovation as it is a slightly different twist on Uber’s Comfort mode.  If you qualify as a driver for Lyft Preferred, you will be able to pick up passengers who want a slightly better passenger experience.

    You, as the driver, will be able to see when a passenger has selected the Lyft Preferred mode and you will earn a bonus on top of your normal commission for the drive.

    Here is how Lyft describes the program:

    “From your high rating to your car’s extra legroom, you provide an elevated experience for your passengers, and now you can earn bonuses for it. Select drivers (like you) are now participating in a pilot of Lyft Preferred — a new type of ride for passengers who want to pay a little more for a newer car, a little more legroom, and a top driver. 

    If you give a Lyft Preferred ride, you’ll earn a bonus on top of your regular ride payment. You’ll be able to see if a ride is Preferred before you tap ‘Accept.’”

    Qualifying Drivers

    In order to qualify as a Lyft Preferred driver, you will need to meet the following criteria:

    • A driver rating of 4.9 or higher
    • A minimum of 300 lifetime rides
    • A newer car (2014 or newer) 
    • 37” or more of legroom 
    • No flags for an unclean vehicle in your last 20 rides
    • Be in one of the cities with the Lyft Preferred program

    Qualifying Cities

    Lyft Preferred is rolling out in the following markets in the coming weeks:

    What is Lyft Preferred?

    Drivers Will Be Notified By Email If You Qualify

    My first thought about this new program was… confusion.  Primarily, “How do I know if I qualify?”  Lyft responded to my request for a list of cars that qualify by saying:

    “There is no explicit list of cars right now but it is determined based on a newer (2014 or newer) vehicle, 37”+ of legroom and whether the driver is in one of our pilot markets. Drivers will be able to see when a ride is Preferred before accepting the ride.”

    It appears all you can do is hope to get an email.  If you get one, great, you are in.  If you don’t get an email, you are out.

    If you are in one of the pilot cities above, you could also look at your vehicle specs to see if your legroom qualifies at 37” of legroom or more. That may give you a heads up to see if you’re going to qualify (or should qualify).

    As of right now, until this program rolls out and we see which cars they accept, it will be difficult to petition Lyft to include you in the program. However, as this rolls out to test cities across the US, we will certainly update this article with new vehicle information.

    Personally, I can’t wait to see if I qualify. I have a 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

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    Comparison to Uber Comfort

    I like this better than Uber Comfort because I don’t have to adhere to the passengers’ requests to be quiet or to adjust the temperature in my car.

    I have given, maybe, 10 Uber Comfort rides and I did not like them.  The passengers seemed a bit too condescending and self-satisfied. I like the normal folks.

    With the Lyft Preferred mode, all you and I will need to do is what we always do:

    • Drive safely.
    • Be polite.
    • Do your job.

    That’s it! Passengers are paying for more room and a newer, cleaner car – not to boss you around with requests for their ‘ideal temperature.’

    Lyft further stated:

    “Drivers who are selected for the Lyft Preferred pilot have already demonstrated that they’re top-notch drivers. If you’ve been selected for the pilot, just keep doing what you’ve been doing to earn that high rating. Be yourself — you’ve got this. “

    How To Tell You Have A Preferred Ride Request

    Drivers will be able to see when a ride is Preferred before accepting the ride. You will be notified when you get the ping. Then, after the ride is completed, drivers will receive the following notification:

    “You just got $$$ more by giving a Preferred ride.”

    This all seems simple enough.  I imagine I will be on my best behavior when I get a Lyft Preferred ride. I understand that Lyft is telling us to do what we always do.

    However, if someone is paying a bit more, I will drive a bit more smoothly, be conscious of my speaking, and be ready and willing to help with luggage. I will want to give my best service.

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    Key Takeaways for Lyft Preferred

    Lyft is doing something very smart here. They are taking something that already exists and costs no extra money and then charging passengers an extra fee for it.

    Excellent and experienced drivers are out there with larger cars which provide extra legroom.  Airlines charge extra for those seats. Why shouldn’t Lyft?

    Out of that extra fee, the drivers are given a percentage, and the rest is pure profit for Lyft. The drivers are happy. I’ve long said experienced, long-time drivers should be acknowledged and rewarded for the work they do, and with Lyft Preferred, it seems like Lyft is listening a little bit.

    Passengers are getting what they want, too, as is Lyft. It’s a win-win-win for everyone involved.

    I would like to know how drivers qualify and how much we are going to get paid, but I will be patient and see how this all shakes out. I live by the adage that something is better than nothing.

    Hopefully, Lyft is doing right by the drivers and this will be one of the rare announcements that actually puts more money in our pockets. We will see – and keep you updated!

    Drivers, what do you think of the announcement for Lyft Preferred? Are you in one of the pilot cities?

    -Jay @ RSG

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    Resources:

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur, a graduate of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, is a full-time driver with over 26,000 rides. Jay has a driver-focused podcast: Rideshare Dojo with Jay Cradeur. When Jay isn’t writing articles or making videos, he is traveling the world. You can see what Jay is up to at www.nomadjay.com.

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