Lyft is updating its app to direct users to more convenient pickup locations in the interest of helping drivers avoid one-way streets and other obstacles that tend to slow down trips. Users will still have the option to specify where they want to be picked up, but Lyft will try to persuade them to change locations by including the amount of time they’ll save on their trip if they agree.
Lyft promises the suggested pickup locations will only be “a short walk away,” and that the option to accept or skip the suggestion will still be “totally up to you.” The app will automatically calculate the walking time to new location, including added time for crosswalks, and forecasts time saved. Still, the aim of this latest update is to optimize ride-hail trips by asking the riders to do a little more walking so drivers can do a little less driving.
Both Lyft and Uber already use suggested pickups in their respective carpool services, Lyft Line and UberPool. UberPool users in Manhattan, for example, are asked to walk to the nearest corner or intersection so drivers don’t have to wade into stop-and-go traffic on the numbered streets to pick them up. Likewise, Lyft Shuttle uses fixed routes and flat fares to essentially mimic a public bus system in limited tests in San Francisco and Chicago. (The service was widely mocked on the internet recently for failing to recognize its similarity to preexisting public transit.)
Using a ride-hail app in a dense city isn’t always an easy task. The drivers may be plentiful, but there are plenty of obstacles, from traffic to one-way streets, that tend to slow down the experience. Lyft says the driving force in rolling out these changes is to save time for both customers and drivers. That means that any additional steps taken and calories burned are just bonus features.