A new service being tested by Lyft in San Francisco and Chicago allows riders to go to a specific pickup location, ride along a set route, and get off at any of a number of drop-off points. Sound familiar? As TechCrunch points out, the new offering is more or less a bus route in car form.
The service, currently called simply Shuttle, involves a fixed-rate fare that does not surge with demand like normal Lyft pricing. It runs during prime weekday commuting hours: 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Lyft users who open the app near a shuttle route will be able to toggle the Shuttle feature active within the Lyft Line booking option.
Lyft canceled another experiment — it’s Carpool service — in August. That feature allowed Bay Area workers to give riders to other commuters along their normal route, but it shut down after not enough drivers opted into the program. Lyft has also partnered with local transit agencies, including Dallas Area Rapid Transit, to have their app listed as an option inside city transit ticketing apps.
Lyft is far from the only for-profit company moving into the territory of public transportation. The company’s new offering is similar to Boston-based Bridj, which runs a fleet of “flexible vehicles” along high-demand routes in Boston and, until recently, Kansas City. OurBus is testing out an “on-demand direct transport service” for New Jersey commuters. And, of course, there are the infamous Google Buses.
A Lyft spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company often tests new features to make commuting easier, and didn’t indicate if or when the service would expand into more cities.
Kelsey E. Thomas is a former associate editor at Next City.