Lyft is expanding its shared Shuttle service with eight total routes in San Francisco and six in Chicago, its two launch markets for the trial. Shuttle provides fixed-fare shared travel along a designated route – yes, like a bus – with pre-defined pickups and drop-offs. Shuttle is also gaining a scheduling feature, which lets commuters book rides up to a week in advance so they know they have a seat when they need one.
Sound familiar? It might if you’ve been following the progress of Chariot, the Ford-acquired startup that offers commuter shuttles on-demand as a dedicated service. Chariot also introduced advance ride booking, so it’s safe to say this is a priority for customers in this market.
As for the route additions, Lyft is adding a key route between the Caltrain station south of Market and the Financial District, which is a prime candidate for last mile trips connecting commuters from the rest of the Bay Area to their destinations downtown. Route expansions in both cities also suggest that Lyft is at least happy enough with its initial test to keep growing the project.
Lyft says its goal with expansions were first to cover off the densest commuter zones, and continued growth will aim to tackle routes where affordable options from other transit providers are in short supply.
While I’ve seen critics suggest Lyft’s Shuttle and services like it are essentially just reinventing the bus, there’s more going on here: Demand modelling means that Shuttle can evolve to meet the actual needs of commuters on the ground, and potentially allocate transportation much more efficiently, while avoiding needless congestion.