Lyft has officially unveiled three new features that were suggested by its drivers. Together, the new suite of offerings is designed to make driving for Lyft more pleasant and more profitable. Until now, one of the drawbacks for hide hailing drivers has been not knowing where their riders want to go.
Lyft offers its drivers Scheduled Rides. Here’s how it describes the new feature in a blog post:
“When a passenger schedules a ride, we’ve historically notified a driver just minutes before it’s time to depart. With scheduled pickups, a first in the ridesharing industry, drivers can view those rides the moment they’re scheduled, up to seven days early.
Scheduled pickups give drivers more control over their day by displaying each ride’s distance, location, and fare up front, allowing drivers to accept the rides that work best for them.”
“It gives the drivers control over their schedule and think about what they’re going to do,” said Tali Rapaport, Lyft’s vice president of product tells Business Insider. “We can now give certainty.”
That certainty will benefit passengers as well. Last week, my daughter was planning to use Uber to get from Providence to Logan airport in Boston. When the driver got to her house and found out where she wanted to go, he refused to give her a ride.
If the driver knew he could pick up another fare going back to Providence, that would be one thing. But the way things have been done up till now, the return trip would have been unproductive downtime for him.
I don’t blame him, really. Driving to Logan is a miserable experience, which is why she decided to use Uber in the first place. With no time left to summon another ride and still get to the airport on time, she wound up driving herself in her own car anyway.
The Scheduled Rides feature may mean that riders who need to make the same trip regularly, like getting to and from work every day, could arrange for the same Lyft driver on multiple occasions, providing a degree of certainty for both.
Lyft will also pay drivers a premium to accept fares in so-called Power Zones — urban areas where there is a high demand for rides at certain hours. “With Power Zones, drivers can get paid more for every ride within a defined zone during eligible hours. It’s our easiest incentive yet, with no restrictions on car year, ride count, or acceptance rate. Power Zones are currently available in 12 cities nationwide.”
“It helps us get drivers on the road when passengers really need them,” Rapaport says. “It kind of gives drivers control over what they’re making,” Rapaport says.
Lyft has also created a new app just for drivers. The lightweight architecture takes up less space on the driver’s smartphones and allows them to easily keep track of their Scheduled Rides and Power Zone opportunities while they drive.
“One of the things we want to continue to make better is the actual experience of driving,” Rapaport says. “I think we have to keep investing in treating drivers better. We know drivers have a choice. We keep making the experience for driving for Lyft great.”
The question now is, why would anybody drive for Uber, the Evil Empire of ridesharing headed by Travis Kalanick, the Prince of Darkness himself?