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With Lyft Line, Passengers Can Split Fares for Shared Rides (techcrunch.com)
224 points by cstigler on Aug 6, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 103 comments



Lyft already has the full implementation in their app. Uber has a beta sign up list and a blog post. Occam's razor says that Uber got wind of this launch and quickly wrote up a blog post announcing the same thing in order to spear it.


Also, the TC article mentions that Lyft made an acquihire a while ago of Rover and the Rover team has been working on this feature. So it sounds to me like Uber got wind of Lyft pushing out this feature and stole their thunder with a beta signup page.


Occam's Razor says that both parties developed the feature on their own, without knowing about either party doing it. It's a common "transit" feature that people have done for years—the simplest, most assumption free case dictates that neither "stole" from each other etc, but that they just were doing it because it's obvious.

To be fair, SideCar launched this feature a good deal before either of them.


I believe you, but to be fair, I don't think Occam's Razor applies here.


I agree. Also worth noting the Lyft had a TC article about this. Getting a product and press definitely takes more time and effort than a beta signup.


Considering that Uber is going open beta on the 15th per their blog announcement (11 days away), I would imagine that there is more there than just a blog post.


Or maybe thats the minimum amount of time they need for the service to function and they're planning on working out the kinks later.


I would put my money on this. Back in the early days of social games my company did the same thing - got wind of a Zynga announcement, pre-empt it in the press, and work like hell to get it out. The next two weeks are going to be busy at Uber.


According to the blog post, they're in closed beta right now, so clearly the service functions. I can't talk about the kinks, since I'm not in the beta, but it's out there.


But how do you know it's out there if you haven't seen it? Anyone from the HN crowd has seen this closed beta feature?


I upvoted but want even more attention to this question to see if anyone has actually seen the feature. HN? Bueller? Has anyone seen this feature?


"Closed beta" as in developer testing.


They say it's out there in a blog post, so it must be true.


These types of services just don't get thrown together in a couple of days in reaction to a competitor, they require a lot of work and engineering to implement properly.

I'm sure both Uber and Lyft were aware of this feature being designed by their each and are trying to get their respective features out the door.

Ever notice how AWS and Google release price decreases within the same days? Same thing. They have been told it is upcoming and are doing the same thing. I've seen it personally.


How do they define open beta? Anyone with the app can opt into the beta, or is there some form of filtering out users?


Given Hitch launched months ago I think it's fair to say that the idea of shared rides was out in the open and neither Uber nor Lyft were first on this.


Everybody is talking about Uber's announcement, but Sidecar is also apparently experimenting with the same thing:

http://techcrunch.com/2014/06/29/sidecar-shareable-rides/

There are also many ways to grow the product: for example, I know that Uber will be getting into local package delivery before too long. It looks like Lyft/Sidecar/Hitch/Flywheel are keeping them on their toes in the meantime.

One thing is certain: there is cutthroat competition in this industry that will only benefit the consumers.


They already do package delivery with UberX... you just call the allocated driver and ask them if they are ok to deliver it. We do this all the time.


They already do local package delivery in NYC. It's called Uber Rush.


Something I find interesting about this is that it weakens the notion of the app being a relatively pure marketplace connecting a driver to a rider. The more that these features emerge, the more complex the relationships, and the more prominent the role of Lyft/Uber/Sidecar as more than a "mere" broker.

I wonder how much we're going to see things go full circle, and have a more employee-like relationship between drivers and these services (see also the "guaranteed wage" that these services have been offering to some drivers at peak hours).


This is an awesome idea, but I wonder why it is debuting solely in San Francisco. Not that it doesn't make sense there (I'm not familiar with the city), but cities with Airports that are greater than 20 miles or so from dense urban areas (D.C., Atlanta, Dallas, etc.) seems like a huge market for this and a natural fit.

Shorter distance rides aren't worth the hassle, and airport rides are a constant pain in the ass and a nearly 24/7 market.


Airports involve a ton of extra regulatory hassle.


Does that hold for individual pick-up's and drop-off's, though? I take UberX to and from Reagan in D.C. every time. Can't imagine it's a huge leap to gather groups together the same way.

I have to believe the airport shuttle business which is huge, is going to go away at some point. Last time I took one I chose to pay with a credit card at the time of departure and the driver took my credit card and read it over a phone to a dispatch agent in front of an entire group of people who were forced to wait while it was authorized (this process was repeated for about two or three other people). I'm not even sure this is legal, but it certainly isn't optimal.


Could you expand on this? What are the biggest restrictions?


Airports are private property of the airport company, and they typically have separate restrictions for taxis. For example, LAX charges $4 per taxi [1]. Since rideshare companies are often operating under the legal fiction that they are not taxis, they don't want to sign a deal with the airports that treats them as taxis. But the airports don't want them not paying fees. So in this limbo they are not allowed to pick up airport passengers. But they can, and often do drop off passengers at the airport since airports don't usually restrict passenger dropoffs.

Airports make a lot of money off of use-fees like this. This is why, for example, rental cars are often much more expensive if picked up at the airport (SeaTac is a particularly painful example), as the rental car companies pay a hefty premium to be on site. At some airports, like JFK, there are some rental car companies that pick you up by shuttle and take you off-site (but it's a total pain and I recommend you do not do this due to the sheer hassle).

[1] http://www.dailybreeze.com/business/20131013/ride-sharing-co...


eg: In my city, taxis have to wait in line for a customer and pay some taxes to the air port authority.


This is what Bandwagon (http://www.bandwagon.io) has been focusing on in NYC—to and from airports. I think Flywheel is also an airport focused app for SF (https://www.flywheel.com/).


Working in the vehicle routing industry, this is something that I has passed through my mind on more than one occasion. I'm quite pleased to see it implemented - I definitely did not have the means.

In my mind, this sort of product is a great stepping stone towards the reduction in personal cars - it's starting to bring the cost of travelling down by sharing, hopefully by enough to make it accessible to less well-off people. I certainly couldn't afford a taxi to work every day. If this sort of service really takes off, it will hopefully also reduce the number of cars on the road, reducing congestion.

The obvious next step for this sort of service is to use self-driving cars, reducing the cost even further as there are no drivers to pay.

It is obviously an idea whose time has come, and I'm glad!


I share your sentiment. On the other hand, the upper bound of the number of car reduction is maybe 50% of the cars that would be there otherwise (assuming we can replace most single car trips by 2-3 people trips). It's a huge improvement, but the US really needs to work on public transport. Heck, why is Caltrain not more efficient?


If sharing works out pretty well, people will start using minibuses for it. So we might see another reduction.

(In essence, that's like a municipal bus service, just with a much more flexible schedule.)


Eventually you'll be able to get a shared "bus" in five minutes to take you to most common destinations and at night you will be able to get a less-shared "taxi" that will cost more since there aren't people to share your trip with you.

We'll build the brave new tech world equivalent of a decent transportation system.


If that's the only way America is gonna get a decent transportation system, so be it.


when someone can buy a self-driving vehicle and hook it up to uber's network, buying a car could be a capital investment that gets you recurring revenue: you just hook your car up to uber's api, and take it to an automatic service station when the on-board diagnostics report that it needs work to be done.


What's wrong with Caltrian? Seems fine to me, except the difficulty of getting to/from stations.


Caltrain runs on diesel, is incredibly slow (much slower than driving), frequently breaks down, and doesn't travel across the bay. It was probably OK for the 70s.


> The obvious next step for this sort of service is to use self-driving cars, reducing the cost even further as there are no drivers to pay.

Maybe eventually you can put some sort of a fixed guideway along most common travel start/end points, use larger vehicles, then perhaps try to find a way to reduce rolling resistance?


I personally love the idea of Google self-driving cars being used in this respect. Would be interesting to see Amazon get into this space as well considering their work in optimizing inventory and restocking algorithms - seems like it could be a natural fit.


Is this just a response to UberPool? Or vice-versa? It just seems curious to me that within 48 hours the two biggest car-sharing providers launch the same feature.

Or did they hear the other was working on it and rushed it out the door?


As ladon86 mentioned, it looks like Lyft already had it ready to go. I'd bet Uber heard and pushed the blog post. I'm sure both were already working on it, but the Uberpool announcement is just an announcement. Lyft actually has it today in SF.


Uber caught wind of Lyft's announcement and stole their thunder. It wouldn't surprise me if Uber employees read Hacker news too.


I was thinking the exact same thing.


This isn't something you can "rush out the door." The logistics and QA necessary for such a product take months at minimum.

Uber and Lyft most likely saw the exact same market opportunity at similar times.


Well, the cynic in me says that when something is in closed beta to a nonspecific limited pool of individuals, it might not be as fully baked as a blog post might suggest.

I'm not suggesting malice, of course, but perhaps Uber heard that Lyft was planning to announce this, and rushed their own announcement ahead of time, then delay the actual implementation until they're ready.


Completely agree. Microsoft used to do this thing all the time - it would hear about a competitor offering a new feature then announce it was going to be shipped as part of the next version of Windows, killing any interest in the competitor. Then (inevitably) there were months/years of delays while they actually built the thing.

The worst example was when OS/2 looked likely to gain a foothold in the PC market and Microsoft claimed that the next windows would have essentially all the OS/2 features (then delayed the next release for an eternity and shipped without many of the core features). The goal was just to shut down a competitor, not to actually announce a new feature.


Oh, hey, listen, I'm not throwing stones. I've done similar things myself when I had a press release opportunity timed with a trade show or a feature piece or something - but the product wasn't yet ready to ship.

So you announce, say it's in early beta, or early access, or in "sneak preview" mode and go from there.


The video on the landing is well produced enough that it doesn't look like they just rushed this out, maybe shoved it though.

> Cheaper than a breakfast burrito.

What kind of burritos are they eating!?


Hipster San Francisco burritos :)


Burritos in San Francisco.


Interestingly, this was how Lyft started (as a company called Zimride). That concept didn't take off and the Lyft one did, so they shuttered this a long time ago. They've come full circle.


Actually zimride got sold to enterprise. Maybe they needed to build out the two-sides of the marketplace before being able to actually do "ride-sharing"


When I moved from Portland, OR to Los Angeles, CA I sold the extra seat in the Penseke truck on Zim Ride.


"Sub solen nihil novi este"

I've been backpacking around SE Asia for a few months now, and this sort of system has been active on an ad hoc basis for years in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There, it's expected that "red cars" (seemingly the only active taxis), will pick up other passengers.

They'll stop for passengers flagging them down, and check location before issuing a quote, if in fact they're on the way. While this made traveling really cheap, there were times where a 10-minute trip stretched into over half an hour. I'm interested to see whether these services will customize allowable wait times to the individual, or whether all ride-sharers have roughly the same tolerance for delays.

But, to say that any one company copied another in this case is a pretty stupid argument to make. I asked myself this question the first time I rode with Uber, and I'm sure many of you have as well. I would imagine that any good PM would've thoroughly investigated it; it's pretty obvious.


Wow, how do lyft and uber manage to launch the same thing at the same time?


There are so many people working for each company, consulting for them, advising them, and attending their investor pitches, that I suspect it is hard to keep secrets. It is like that in any industry.

I've had someone attend an investment pitch who I'm pretty sure then told a potential competitor exactly what I planned on doing. If this happens to my company, which is pretty insignificant compared to Lyft and Uber, I bet it is even worse for them.


Leaks are a reasonable explanation, but it's probably worth remembering they're not the only one. When you've got reasonably smart people working on solving problems and developing products/services in the same space, a certain amount of convergence is going to be natural.

I don't work for either and this is one of several ideas I considered while thinking about that space, and everybody here has probably had the experience of watching a startup build something around an idea they had but never really shared.


It sorta looks like Lyft pushed this out ahead of schedule based on Uber's announcement. The website says it's SF-only and iPhone-only.

Which, if so, is a great testament to their ability to respond quickly. And also, as a user of these services, I love the competitive pressure they're putting on each other.


Why would you give Uber more credit than Lyft, when Uber's offering is currently just a beta signup?


Because that's exactly what Uber planned. Release announcement first. Get mindshare as the first one.


I've been using Hitch the last month or so, and Sidecar has had the functionality for some time as well. Its cool to see Lyft and Uber offering the service.

IMO, a big win for consumers, because offering more service-level options, and driving down pricing. With Hitch, it usually costs me $9 for what costs $16-22 on UberX, Lyft or Sidecar. Thats a nice savings, even if it takes me 10min more to get home. I could really see mass adoption coming from the service who nails this and provides the option that is better than Muni, but cheaper than individual car service.

Another aspect of this service I wasn't ready for was that the social dynamic can completely change the ride-sharing experience. Its different when you are just chatting with a driver, vs a 3rd or 4th stranger jumping in the car. It will be interesting to see how others react and expectations evolve as it becomes mainstream.


We had this in Germany for ages. See mitfahrgelegenheit.de


All of these marketplaces exist in the US and Europe but Lyft Line is different. It's on demand, you get into a car that you just requested on your phone and it designs a route to pick up other passengers on the way, it may only be 10 minutes each. No pre-booking or planning required, the software does everything in real time.


Theoretically, since UBER support 6-passenger vans(UBERXL), they could offer almost half the price of lyft, on the right rides.

Assuming people accept this, van availability would be a critical component of the competition in this field.


Lyft has "Plus" which as far as I can tell is very similar - http://get.lyft.com/plus/ (both services are mid-sized SUV's, not vans, and claim to seat 6)


Lyft Plus is more or less a novelty and doesn't match UberXL in terms of availability. In Seattle you can get an UberXL very easily while Lyft Plus is nowhere to be found.


I wouldn't base anything off one geographic area. I just checked in SF, and Lyft Plus has 4 drivers in my area (SOMA), whereas Uber XL only had 3.


I could say the same to you! SF is not representative of Lyft's service in the rest of the US at all, being the location of the headquarters. Same for Uber in SF.


Bandwagon, based in NY, has been doing this kind of ridesharing. They pointed out that Uber/Lyft's 'ridesharing' model wasn't really ridesharing (now it kinda is). See https://medium.com/@HiBandwagon

and they work on taxi lines at airports, events: http://blog.bandwagon.io/post/92569728340/meet-the-hop-lane-...


It wasn't clear if uber was going to start asking about destinations for uberpool. But lyft specifically mentions that; it seems necessary to do good matching. And the extra effort seems minimal.


But this was Lyft vision a LONG time ago- they started as a carpool app called Zimride, which didn't take off as quickly without mobile in the state it is today.


Does this mean You can split the fare with your friends (people you know) or even with complete strangers who want to share the same route as yours? Both features need different approaches and I guess the later one will drag down cost of transpiration much lower.


Uber already had an ability to split fares with people you know, assuming there's only one pickup for all of you. I don't think Lyft had that.

These new announcements are about splitting with strangers, matched on their end. It's much more interesting than fare split with friends.


How could they roll out this marvelous new idea so quickly. Uber was genius to think of this radical concept, "splitting a cab," there is no way Lyft could come up with it so quickly on their own.


Honest question. When I read a sentence like this: "the guys at Lyft got to talking with the guys at Rover and they decided to work together instead."

Does "guys" imply the teams are all male? Is that relevant, or just reflect the casual sexism of the Valley? Or is "guys" a truly universal term and this just reflects an excessively lazy/casual writing style for a supposed news outlet?


Yeah, I read it the same way. Not sure if it's even relevant, but they could have easily just replaced "guys" with "team", and it would have probably sounded less slang-like (regardless of the casual sexism factor). Same with the "got to talking" part (replacing it with something more simple like "talked").

"the guys at Lyft got to talking with the guys at Rover and they decided to work together instead." (I read this like poorly-worded slang)

vs

"the team at Lyft talked with the team at Rover and they decided to work together instead." (I think this is much better worded)


Right or wrong, I've asked many female friends if they mind the term "guys" as a general reference to a group of people, and none of them mind it. Your milage may vary, but I think it's considered a general term.


It's a general term in social groups when I am not worried that someone actually forgot there were any women in the group of us going out that night. It's a trickier term that seems in my experience to correlate well with "there are no women here" or "I forgot there are any women here" when used at work, and so it is a slight negative indicator in professional language.


One data point, I have seen a several women independently call other women "guys" plenty of times. (I'm not native so the first couple of times it took me by surprise.)

I think by now it's a universal term.


Has anyone tried this yet? How was it?


Used it today. Sadly, not much to report -- my driver was as curious as I was ("Looks cool!") but we didn't get routed to anyone along the way, so I just had a normal Lyft experience (but free).

Driver brought up a great point though -- there doesn't seem to be support for specifying how many people you've got to travel (or is it designed just for a single person?). He said he could foresee stopping to pickup a second passenger only to find out there were 4 people in the group (and not enough space.)


It's not very usable, but there's a drop down to specify whether you have one or two people in your party. Their website (and possible the product, I forget) suggests that if you have more than 2 people in your party, that you kindly request a normal Lyft.


I wish Lyft would drop the mustache for the balloon in all their branding!


i like lyft much better but I wonder why are not evaluated like uber is from investor's perspective


Uber is more established and Lyft has been the energetic 'new kid on the block.' Maybe it's because they are perceived as another startup and Uber is not? If they sustain their growth or at least keep strong market share in their locations they won't have that issue. I would give it another year though.


I don't have numbers but imagine that Uber's got a lot more traction.


Little late to the party, ey?


Two posts on this came up at the same time. We've buried the other one (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8143303) as a dupe because this one has the active discussion. But we'll change the URL (from https://www.lyft.com/line) because the Techcrunch article provides a lot of background info. Happy to change it back if people prefer.


It may be time for HN to add a feature that TechMeme already offers: combine multiple links that cover the same story under one thread. I'm sure the smart people at HN have already considered it.

For instance, yesterday's news of Apple's Sep 9 launch date was shown on TechMeme as one item, with about 100 sub-links from every possible publication. They even get the primary source right most of the time, which is great.


We've been considering it. But the UI would have to be unobtrusive.


Now that's some impressive response time.


Very cool idea. Not too sure it's something I'd feel comfortable using but the savings would make it very tempting.


Why the down votes here? Strange considering I was complimentary about the service. Maybe my "Not too sure it's something I'd feel comfortable using" was misunderstood (in which case - comment when you down vote). I meant that sharing a taxi with strangers doesn't personally appeal to me.


Don't worry too much about downvotes, especially early downvotes. (And don't feel compelled to compliment something to get upvotes.)

I wonder what the impact will be on prices for non-shared rides. (This feature will make taxis more `productive' in the economic sense. Productivity improvements can have all kinds of impact. Especially since supply and demand are elastic.)


I understand that this is something that Lyft has obviously been working on for quite awhile and put plenty of resources and thought into, but for some reason I still have a sour taste when they launch this just the day after Uber.

I'm really curious if this was rushed out as a response to Uber or if this specific date/time range was always perceived as the launch time.


Seems like Uber rushed out their vaporware announcement of UberPool to steal Lyft's thunder of launching a concrete feature. The fact that people are now giving Lyft a hard time shows the value of PR.


Really, vaporware? Considering they've launched it in private beta already and have said they plan to expand it greatly in 9 days, I'm going to say that it's most definitely not vaporware.


Lyft has the product to market first. Any consumer can now use their feature. Sniping a PR release using a beta isn't the same thing as delivering a production-ready feature. Until you have a usable product in your hand, you have promises, not features.


Well, any consumer in San Francisco with an iPhone.


Yeah but that's not the definition of vaporware. Vaporware has a very specific definition, and we won't know if something is vaporware until long after the announcement, by sheer definition that it doesn't get released nor cancelled.


Fair, I only saw that Uberpool was not available for me (Android, NYC), not that it was coming out in beta so soon.


If you're in NYC, Bandwagon is on android too


It's pretty clearly the opposite. Uber has no product yet but rushed out an announcement to steal Lyft's thunder. Lyft actually has a product and at worst might be announcing it early because of Uber's move.


Lame but Uber seems to make better business decisions. For example: Lyft requiring facebook is just dumb to me even though data collection is easier.

I tried to download Lyft on my iPhone 3GS but I can only use the old version because Lyft is using iOS 7 for their latest app.

Little stuff like this matters.


Maybe Uber heard rumors about Lyft's project, and announced theirs early?




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