Lyft is adding even more riders to its multiple ride-sharing service Lyft Line. Called Triple Match, the feature works like the regular Line service but allows drivers to pick up three or more riders going on similar routes along the way.
Triple Match is only available in San Francisco for now but accounts for 20 percent of all Lyft Line rides, according to Lyft.
The new feature sounds a lot like rival Uber’s Perpetual Rides idea. CEO Travis Kalanick mentioned Perpetual Rides, a service that would allow drivers to pick up and drop off passengers continuously along the way, earlier this year. You can see him mention Perpetual Rides at Europe’s Digital Life Design conference in January on this video at the 3:15 mark.
Update from Uber: “We are currently testing methods to make the ‘perpetual trip’ a reality in San Francisco. We’ve already seen initial success linking multiple consecutive trips into a single trip for the driver. Creating more efficiency in this way enables us to drive down the price for riders and increase earnings for drivers.”
To complicate things, Lyft told TechCrunch it started using the Triple Match feature in November of 2014, well ahead of Uber’s announcement for Perpetual Rides. However, Lyft chose not to announce the ability to pick up more than two rides on the same route until now.
Triple Match doesn’t work exactly the same way as the Perpetual Rides idea, but is pretty close. Perpetual Rides would pick up and drop off passengers going along a similar route as soon as there is a seat available in the car. Based on our understanding (Uber did not get back to us when we asked about this service), Perpetual Rides would do this forever, as long as there is an extra seat. However, Triple Match would only take up to three or four passengers along a route when a seat becomes available, and then the route would end.
“We do have a limit, so the driver has a break,” Lyft engineer Tim Brown said.
Triple Match is an addition to Line and not a separate product Lyft plans to break out. It’s not subject to Hot Spots, or areas that Lyft has deemed places of high traffic within city limits. Instead it focuses on where there seems to be more demand at the moment and uses an algorithm to determine the best route to pick up each passenger promptly, according to Lyft.
Lyft Line and the new Triple Match feature are also an attempt to triple or quadruple income while increasing ride route efficiency for the startup. As Lyft drivers are able to carry more passengers, each paying a certain amount, Lyft is able to pull in more money per route.
Lyft Line is just shy of a year out the gate and already makes up more than 50 percent of all rides in San Francisco and New York City. The increase of more passengers within a route is an indication where the transportation startup sees potential for growth.
“The product last year is almost primitive to what we have today and the product will become even more sophisticated and productive in the future,” Lyft’s co-creator of the Line feature Lev Popov said.
Drivers, in theory, will also be able to make more money on these types of rides. Of course, all that hinges on ride prices staying at a certain rate. Lyft’s engineers mentioned a scenario where each rider could end up paying less than the current $2.50 MUNI fee per route.
For now, Lyft drivers are paid a guaranteed amount per ride, no matter if the ride is from Lyft Line or a solo ride, according to Lyft. That doesn’t seem sustainable for the long-term, especially not if Triple Matches reduce the cost. So, while that sounds great for the rider, and certainly increases the incentive to use Lyft over SF’s public transportation system, it could eventually cut into driver wages should Lyft ever decide to change the way it pays those drivers for each rider they pick up.