Lyft brings back shared rides for first time since pandemic began

Back in March 2020 everything changed, especially for ride-share companies like Lyft. But now things are coming back — slowly.

With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down U.S. cities by mid-March, ride-hailing services all but shriveled up. Lyft, and its main rival Uber, both eliminated the more budget-friendly ride option to carpool with a stranger or two. But 16 months later, Lyft’s “Shared Rides” are back.

Well, at least in some cities. And the shared trips look different from before the pandemic.

Starting Monday, riders in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Denver will be the first to have the option for a shared ride again on the Lyft app. Shared rides will eventually return to more cities in the coming months.

But to start, the experience looks different from February 2020. It’s still a cheaper option than a regular Lyft, but now there are new booking slots. If you book a shared ride as usual (for a pickup ASAP) it’ll be a certain price. If you opt for a pickup window in 5 to 15 minutes it’ll be slightly discounted. For the deepest discount, select a 15- to 30-minute wait for a ride.

Below is an example shared ride with an immediate pickup charging $9.40. For a delayed ride it’s $7.50, and for an even longer wait it’s $7.10.

Shared rides now have options.
Credit: Lyft

A long-awaited feature will now come standard for shared rides: no route changes or additional pickups after you book. When you request a trip you will see upfront the number of pickups, the expected route, and ETA. So no more “surprise” pickups that would tack on an extra 15 minutes in the wrong direction.

There are also new safety precautions in place, including:

Masks are required for all riders, even for vaccinated riders

Only two riders can be in a shared ride at a time — so you can’t book a shared ride for two people, only for yourself

Riders cannot sit in the front and middle seats

No eating and drinking during the trip

Shared rides are similar to ride restrictions in place for regular Lyft trips, but now there’s a stranger in the back seat with you.

We reached out to Uber for any plans to resume Uber Pool rides, but haven’t heard back. The return to a new normal takes patience.

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