Rideshare is called rideshare for a reason. The original premise was that people would be using it more as a carpool service rather than an individual car service.
Both Uber and Lyft have offered carpool or shared rides in the past. However, during the height of the pandemic, it was determined that it was unsafe to have strangers commingling in the cars together, on top of the fact that it’s already two sets of strangers to begin with — driver and passenger(s).
Some drivers have enjoyed the fact that these pool rides have been put on hold—some even expressed the hope that shared rides would disappear forever.
However, Lyft recently announced they will be adding shared rides back into the mix. They may look a bit different than they used to though.
As of July 19, 2021, shared rides are back on the Lyft platform in three markets—Chicago, Denver and Philadelphia. We can expect this to expand to more markets over the next several months.
What changes are being made to these shared rides? For starters, passengers will be able to book their shared ride up to 30 minutes in advance instead of instantaneously. The hope is this will make it easier to map routes that make sense for people to hop in on a ride together.
Lyft is even incentivizing booking in advance by offering discounted rates for booking ahead.
Driver Response to the Return of Shared Rides
This news will basically affect each driver differently. Some don’t want to have even more people in their car while others don’t care as much and are happy to go back to the pre-pandemic days.
On Reddit, someone flat out said, “Lyft is always asking, ‘How can we make pandemic driving worse for drivers?’ in their desperation for quick cash while pretending that they have an adequate supply of drivers.”
On its face, this seems to make sense: faced with a driver shortage, why wouldn’t Lyft try to solve the problem by piling as many passengers in a car as possible?
Someone was concerned that drivers might not be able to opt-out of giving these shared rides, but another responded, “It says in the email we can reject them until the end of 2021 without risking our bonuses or streaks. Now how true is that in practice, we’ll have to see.”
Others are quitting Lyft over this change. Another pointed out, however, that this was only offered in limited markets to begin with, so it’s likely to be offered in those markets and not expand to others, for now.
Finally, a good point is that there may not be passengers who are willing to share a ride yet because of the coronavirus.
On the other hand, if passengers are being offered to take these rides at a cheaper rate, that may drive more to opt into shared rides and take the risk anyway.
The Lyft website does explain what situations you may find yourself in where the appropriate action would be to cancel the trip:
What About UberPool?
Not yet. At least not in the U.S. YET. When CNN Business asked if Uber would be bringing back UberPool, a spokesperson said they would:
“Explore re-launching Pool when the time is right and will follow the guidance of health experts.”
It’s pretty common for one platform to roll something out and the other to follow within the next few months, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Uber does hop on the shared ride bandwagon sooner rather than later.
In addition, UberPool has returned in some markets in Australia for Uber.
For now, if you go to the Uber Pool page of their U.S. website, it does say “Uber Pool is temporarily unavailable. Due to COVID-19, Uber Pool is temporarily suspended in many regions. Check your app for details.”
So, it doesn’t flat out say that Uber Pool is shutdown in all U.S. regions, but I haven’t heard of any region where it is currently operating in the U.S.
What do you think of this change? Are you ok with giving shared rides again? Would you want it available in your market?
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