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Lyft reinvents calling a cab

Lyft reinvents calling a cab


Call A Lyft lets you get a ride with a phone call — just like a taxi

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Lyft is admitting that some part of traditional taxi services are worth emulating today by letting people in select Florida cities book Lyft rides with just a phone call. The new “Call A Lyft” feature should be “perfect for seniors and folks without access to the Lyft app,” says Lyft.

Calling 631-201-LYFT (631-201-5938) between 8AM-8PM ET on Monday through Friday will let a potential rider book a ride. Lyft says that it will tell riders the full price before confirming and send texts to track the ride once it’s paid for and booked. It should be familiar to anyone who’s ever called a cab, though Lyft notes drivers are not expected to offer assistance getting into a car and wheelchair accessible rides aren’t available at launch. Call A Lyft also requires a phone with support for SMS messages.

Lyft isn’t the only ride-sharing company to fall back on phone calls. Uber experimented with a similar feature in 2020, allowing customers in Arizona to dial 1-833-USE-UBER to book a ride. Prior to both companies falling back on taxi service tactics, companies like GoGoGrandparent stepped in as an intermediary for ride-sharing and food delivery companies, allowing older folks to dial a phone number and have someone else handle the apps.

Lyft and Uber pushed out traditional taxi and cab services with a theoretically easy-to-use service and a large pool of drivers, but Call A Lyft illustrates that sometimes the old methods were that way for a reason — because they worked.

Call A Lyft is available now and Lyft has a full list of supported cities on its site.