More than three-quarters of people commuting to work each day are driving by themselves.
That’s a lot of empty seats on the road – and all that traffic and congestion has a large financial, environmental, and emotional cost. Carpooling is common amongst families, but has yet to become a viable transportation method for most people. It’s certainly never been prevalent enough to be seen as a replacement for having a car.
But on-demand ridesharing platforms Lyft and Uber see a major opportunity here. Earlier this year, both companies joined a host of other startups offering “shared ride” services named Lyft Line and UberPool, respectively. The idea is that if two riders are going in the same direction, it is cheaper and more efficient to have them ride together. In exchange for sitting with a stranger, riders can receive a discount of anywhere from 30-60% each, depending on demand. Although they are only available in certain areas thus far, the service is proving to be extremely popular – Lyft reports that in just two months, one-third of their rides in San Francisco are now Lines.
Lyft and Uber have already undercut the price of a taxi in most markets, but with this new service, both are now taking aim at public transit systems. By attempting to offer a viable alternative to the bus and metro, Lyft and Uber are offering new options to consumers in a space where few existed before.As Timothy Lee writes at Vox, “Until recently, there weren’t many services in this ‘in between’ category. If you were going to the airport, you could get a shared-ride van. And some urban areas had dollar vans. But these were limited services in niche markets.”
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