The evolution of ride-sharing

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Just got done reading this piece in Pando, which is basically Sarah Lacy complaining about Lyft’s new Lyft Line service, which is basically paid car pooling (eg the software lets you split the cost of a car service with some strangers, thereby reducing the cost).

Buried in the piece is an extraordinary insight from Lacy: That services like this compete more with municipal buses than they do with car services or taxis.

Every morning, on my way back from the gym, I walk past a crowded bus stop. Every day, when I pass, I think about how much time is wasted by people who use the bus for commuting. The trade-off with riding the bus in LA is basically that you can get anywhere for $2-3, but it’s going to take you an hour or more, plus a bunch of additional time to walk from the bus stop to your destination.

That’s a terrible trade, unless you’re incredibly hard-up for cash.

Enter Lyft Line, where, for $3-5 each (at least in San Francisco), a group of people can share a private car which will pick each of them up wherever they are and drop each of them off at their preferred destination. That means much less waiting and much less walking.

Yes, it’s more expensive, but my strong suspicion is that people will trade the extra $1-2 for dramatically better service.

And that’s going to revolutionize public transportation, which will (or, at least, should) revolutionize how we plan our cities.

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