Uber and Lyft have resisted calls to allow customers to book their rides in advance, arguing it would defeat the purpose of being an on-demand ride-sharing platform. But starting today, Lyft is reversing course, announcing that it is testing a new feature in San Francisco to allow riders to schedule a ride 24 hours in advance.
Booking a car ahead of time has previously been the exclusive realm of for-hire vehicle services like black cars and limo companies. And Uber and Lyft, which place a huge premium on efficiency, have said such features are unnecessary when a car can be summoned to your front door in about five minutes. The worry has been that rather than responding to immediate ride requests, drivers would be wasting time circling a neighborhood, waiting for a scheduled customer.
But as Lyft continues to try to outmaneuver Uber in the US, it has tacked toward these types of customer-friendly features, as well as expensive discounts, like today’s news of a weeklong promotion in New York City offering 50 percent off fares in Manhattan.
Customers who want to book a Lyft ride up to a day in advance would need to tap the clock icon to set the desired time for pickup. And riders can update or cancel their scheduled ride up to 30 minutes before the requested time. “While on-demand rides remain core to our platform, we’re thrilled to offer even more options to passengers — as well as another opportunity for drivers to earn,” Lyft said in a statement.