Lyft, the San Francisco-headquartered transportation network company, recently took some enthusiasm for its new Shuttle service.
The ride-sharing company has officially unveiled in June a beta version of Shuttle: a carpool service that will travel along a designated route and make certain stops along the route.
The biggest difference between the Lyft’s Shuttle service and a city bus commuting transport is that Lyft’s service will only become visible during peak hours or the times of high demand and accommodate fewer passengers. The launch of Shuttle without any mention of its relationship to public transit garnered some counterblast:
this is a bus. Lyft invented a bus. Lyft shuttle is a bus. pic.twitter.com/NTjXbqGdYT
— Jules N. Binoculars (@surfbordt) June 19, 2017
This concept seems so familiar but I just can't put my finger on YES I CAN IT'S A BUS YOU'VE INVENTED A BUS https://t.co/lROGYMjwFg
— Drave🍑🎺Moonrascal (@DoctorAvenue) June 19, 2017
Emily Castor, Lyft’s director of transportation policy, has now responded to that condemnations via Medium — Twitter’s online publishing platform. In the post, Castor admits the similarities, but asserts that there are key distinctions between the two services that allow “Shuttle” to augment public transit, rather than browbeaten it.
Shuttle “fits into a new category experts call ‘microtransit,’ and it’s outlined to do things public buses can’t do and reach commuters that buses don’t reach, helping engage a broad range of commuters who haven’t used transit before.
Castor’s description of the Lyft’s Shuttle service makes a key point as cities fail to sufficiently invest in public transit systems, Silicon Valley is venturing to come up with its own answers.
Lyft isn’t the only startup firm pursuing the said model; another ride-hailing company Uber as well as Elon Musk’s latest venture, The Boring Company, are also taking an effort at public transit solutions.
If Shuttle service were to become a success, then it could pump more well-heeled commuters who take mass transit, leaving behind a lower-income, elderly, or immigrant riders who may not have access to the Lyft app, which requires a smartphone, Internet connection and a bank account.
Keep in mind that there are very few mass transit systems make a profit, which is why the local government supports the buses, railway trains, and subways we ride to work everyday.
Lyft tapped its beta routes in San Francisco and Chicago by scanning at areas that saw the most demand for Lyft’s carpool service, Lyft Line, Castor said in her post.