Packing more people into vehicles on the road has been Lyft’s long-term goal since its inception, and it appears the company is well on its way to doing so.
The ride-hailing company said today that Lyft Line, which lets users share Lyft vehicles with others heading in the same direction, now makes up more than 50 percent of its total rides in San Francisco, and more than 30 percent of rides in New York City.
Those are substantial numbers, especially given that the carpooling service launched in those cities less than eight months ago.
Lyft also noted that more than 20 percent of its rides start or end near a BART or Caltrain stop, “proving Lyft Line to be the perfect last-mile complement to public transit.”
Here’s how Lyft Line works: Those who request a ride with Lyft Line set their destination and the number of passengers they are riding with. Lyft then uses an algorithm that calculates the chance of finding other matches, and notifies the user with an estimated cost of a ride.
Riders are expected to be ready when their Lyft Line arrives, so as to not delay everyone else in the carpool. Drivers will wait a few minutes before leaving.
The idea is to reduce the cost for each passenger while maximizing efficiency for drivers. An MIT study last year showed that a carpooling service like Lyft Line not only saves money for riders, but also reduces pollution, road congestion, and travel time by significant amounts.
Lyft’s carpooling feature is only available in San Fran, NYC, and Los Angeles. The company also recently introduced HotSpots, or pickup zones in San Francisco where Lyft Line rides are $5.
Lyft Line is reminiscent of Zimride, the carpooling startup that Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer launched in 2007 before turning the idea into Lyft and selling Zimride to Enterprise Holdings in 2013. Lyft Line was developed by the people behind Rover, a transportation startup that Lyft acquired earlier this year.
Lyft has always prided itself on building community, so Lyft Line fits the company’s mission. When we first met Zimmer last August, he was adamant on both making transportation more efficient for cities (eliminating traffic, saving drivers money) and creating a sense of community with riders and passengers.
“Making systems to connect people unlocks what people really want, which is a sense of belonging,” he said last year.
Uber has a similar service called UberPool — we’ve reached out to Uber for usage statistics. Update: Here’s some data on UberPool, which is available in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Paris. It’s also available in Austin in the evenings on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.