THE LYFT SHUTTLE: RIDE HAILING ISN’T DONE DISRUPTING THE TRANSPORT ECONOMY

Earlier this month Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, spoke to Bloomberg regarding the state of driving technology:

“There is a major disruption looming there,” Cook said on Bloomberg Television, citing self-driving technology, electric vehicles and ride-hailing. “You’ve got kind of three vectors of change happening generally in the same time frame.”

He’s not wrong. Not only do cars — or personal transport systems — carry big potential for the biggest technological advancement since the internet and mobile, each of the these three vectors are disruptive in their own right. And each one is dependent on the development of one core element – electric vehicles need batteries, ride hailing needs mobile, and self-driving needs Artificial Intelligence. (Of course, I’m conveniently ignoring the legal and infrastructure hurdles but it’s history has taught us that we are in a better position to tackle them after gaining the technological innovation.)

It’s no surprise that ride hailing is the most successful right now; after all, only mobile is as developed and widely adopted today. Ride hailing entered the scene with Uber benefiting from reducing friction between you and the service; yes, the rates are cheaper than the traditional taxis in most countries but it’s point of entry was the convenience of easy booking and easy payments. The early subsidised fares prove that they viewed their benefits here and integral for locking you in.

But with any new service, ride hailing needed its time to gather familiarity and acceptance. And it wasn’t long before more consumers lead to more taxis, and the opportunity to introduce ride sharing. It’s a brilliant strategy with benefit to both sides – having those cars on the road is almost a sunk cost; with lower fares, you’re tapping into more customers and more frequent hails. Though somehow, it still has its drawbacks – many a time the route goes awry since it’s still a door to door service; time is lost, time is unpredictable, and time is inefficient.

Enter Lyft Shuttle:

Ride for a low fixed fare* along convenient routes, with no surprise stops. Shuttle is available during commute hours: weekdays 6:30-10:30 AM and 4-8 PM.

The Lyft app will give you walking directions to your stop. You’ll also see a photo of where to meet your driver in their personal car. Make sure you get there by the listed departure time.

Yes, it might sound elitist to take a “car” instead of the already available shuttle public transport but that’s exactly what this is right now – another mode of shuttle public transport. You may benefit from a nearby stop (and with no infrastructure costs, it may get revised in the future), a fixed lower fare, and a much more accurate estimated arrival time. Not to mention that this could prove a great supplement to the bigger and faster public networks.

To some extent this shuttle service feels obvious and natural. Keep in mind though, it’s needed until today to realise, after gaining the necessary technology and acceptance. But it’s finally reached that stage of disruption it started out to accomplish and play nice with the next vectors to come along – electric vehicles and self-driving technology.

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