Lyft today announced what it says is its “most affordable” ride option yet: Shared Saver. Starting this week in select cities — Denver and San Jose for now, with others to follow — riders can lock in low prices even during peak hours. Unlike Lyft’s standard Shared rides, Shared Saver isn’t affected by surge pricing.
So how does it work? Well, as with a standard Shared ride, your Lyft driver won’t necessarily come to you. After a few minutes, you’ll be directed to a pickup spot that’s “a quick walk” (at most a few blocks, Lyft says) from your location. There you’ll meet your driver and fellow riders. Similarly, the drop-off location will be “a short walk” from your intended destination.
Lyft recently redesigned its app to promote Shared rides, chiefly by making it easier to compare prices of solo versus Shared rides and by notifying solo riders when there’s a Shared ride heading their direction that doesn’t include detours. Last year, Lyft VP of Government Relations Joseph Okpaku told TechCrunch that about 35 percent of Lyft rides are shared among passengers and that the goal is to reach 50 percent shared rides by 2020.
Shared Saver’s debut follows on the heels of Uber’s Express Pool, which directs riders to pickup points within two blocks of their origin and drops them off within two blocks of their destinations. Uber claims it’s up to 50 percent cheaper than UberPool, Uber’s alternative ride-splitting option, and up to 75 percent cheaper than UberX. (Lyft didn’t provide a comparative metric for Shared Saver.)
The news also comes as Lyft gears up for an initial public offering. In December, the company, which was last valued at $15 billion, beat Uber to the punch in filing for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission. According to Reuters sources, the IPO is slated for the first half of 2019.
Lyft announced in September of last year that it had surpassed a billion rides in the nearly seven years since its founding, doubling the number of rides it delivered in less than 12 months. And it recently claimed it has 35 percent market share in the U.S., up from 20 percent 18 months earlier. (For context, rival Uber announced it had arrived at 10 billion rides back in June.) The global ride-hailing market is expected to grow to $285 billion by 2030, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs.