Pretty Soon, ‘Ride-Sharing’ Services Could Actually Help You Share a Ride (CityLab)

By Eric Goldwyn

Cab-sharing has arrived in a serious way with UberPool and Lyft Line.

After a decade of false starts, smartphone-enabled cab-sharing has finally arrived. In an ongoing quest to drive down the cost of a ride, attract more customers, increase efficiency, and take over the personal travel market, Lyft and Uber have both rolled out beta services in San Francisco that match users going in the same direction: UberPool and Lyft Line. Building on their popular and easy to use e-hailing platforms and sizable networks of passengers and drivers, both services are betting they have the right formula to move more people at a lower price.

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I took three Lyft Line rides. Here’s how it works: You sign into the app, select a line ride, and input your destination. As Lyft builds your route, it simultaneously searches its database for other riders going in the same direction. If the system finds a match, Lyft will send you a note about your vehicle, driver, and fellow passenger. If no match is found, you ride alone, and Lyft picks up half the tab. One of my San Francisco rides matched (Hi, Clara!), one didn’t, and one did match but the passenger never showed. In all these cases, my rides cost 50 percent less than a solo ride would have, and got me where I needed to go without adding much delay. Drivers are instructed to wait no more than a minute for the matching rider.

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