July 18, 2021
Starting Monday, you can share a Lyft with a complete stranger in Philadelphia again.
Philly is one of the first cities in the country to see Lyft's carpooling option return from its COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. The cheapest way to travel with the ride-hailing company will look different, including upgrades to the booking process and safety precautions in place.
Carpools will be capped at two riders, meaning you can't book a shared ride for yourself and another person, to allow for social distancing in the front and middle seats. Drivers and passengers will also be required to wear masks. And if anyone in the car isn't following the rules, riders and drivers can cancel the ride without penalty.
When shared rides return, you'll have the option to book up to 30 minutes in advance. The longer you wait, the cheaper the fare. In addition to saving you money, Lyft said this booking option will help "match riders going in the same direction for the most efficient route." The company is also offering "fixed" routes free of unexpected changes and surprise pickups.
The return of shared rides is certainly good news for Lyft, which like Uber is dealing with a shortage of drivers. According to a report from CNBC, drivers were roughly 40% below capacity as of early July.
Only time will tell if more people gravitate to Lyft's carpooling option. According to CNN Business, the company's chief financial officer in 2020 disclosed on an earnings call that shared rides made up 17 to 18% of overall rides in the third and fourth quarter of 2019.
Shared rides will also restart Monday in Chicago and Denver. Lyft said it plans to expand the service to more cities "in the coming months."
Uber has not yet restarted its shared rides option. A spokesperson told CNN Business the company will "explore re-launching Pool when the time is right and will follow the guidance of health experts."