As the coronavirus pandemic headed towards its global peak, ride-hailing companies took away the option to order more affordable shared rides that placed them in close contact with strangers. Starting next Monday, Lyft will pilot a modified shared experience that incentivizes longer wait times with faster routes at lower prices.
The company is essentially porting its Wait & Save options to Shared rides. Customers will still be able to book the next available vehicle as it becomes available, but they will also have at least one option to book up to 30 minutes in advance for a lower fare. This will allow the app to group riders going in the same direction on the same vehicle in one go.
These longer wait options will also be tagged to have "no surprise pickups," but it doesn't mean there won't be any — just that you'll know how many there will be along the way, hopefully making that ETA more accurate. Customers requesting more immediate pickups may still be subject to new rider pickups and the resulting diversions as similar requests pop up nearby.
Shared ride vehicles will be limited to two single passengers at a time, both in the rear side seats. Face masks are still required to be worn on mass transportation in the U.S. Lyft is also prohibiting eating and drinking as well. Customers and drivers are able to cancel the ride without penalty and file a report with the company if anyone in their party is not following these rules.
The new Shared options will only be available in Chicago, Denver, and Philadelphia for the time being, but they could be coming to your town before you know it.