San Francisco Bay Area residents now have an appealing transportation alternative for their daily commute.
Lyft Carpool allows commuters traveling between cities to share an easy ride to work. The new service, launched this Wednesday, allows drivers to offset the costs associated with regular long distance driving while providing an easy and inexpensive way for riders to travel between work and home.
For a flat rate starting at just four dollars, riders can carpool with drivers headed in the same direction on a direct route without stopping for additional pickups, as is the case with Lyft’s short-range Line service.
First available to San Francisco Bay Area residents, riders can request Lyft Carpool up to one day in advance using the Lyft mobile app similar to Lyft’s other services. Pickups are limited to one person per trip.
Riders can know the exact price of a trip before requesting a Carpool. The Lyft app instantly calculates pricing as the destination is entered or pinpointed on the map within the service area, never exceeding ten dollars. Nearby Carpool drivers are notified of a trip request and are reminded of those they accept shortly before the scheduled pickup time.
Regular Carpool drivers can expect to make up to $400 per month, depending on distance and frequency of their rides.
Although Carpool has been operating less than 24 hours, Lyft has already drawn some criticism for the way Carpool is operated. Lyft forum community members from the social news and networking website Reddit make some significant points regarding the Carpool Terms of Service (TOS) Agreement.
Unlike Lyft’s other offerings, there are no background checks and drivers can be as young as 18 years old (as opposed to 21). Moreover, no insurance is provided by Lyft for drivers or riders using the platform. Some worry this makes the service less secure than traditional Lyft rides and may cause issues in the event of an accident.
The TOS also states that a separate company, Clara Rides, Inc., is the sole operator of Carpool, despite being under the Lyft brand, which cuts out Lyft from any liability resulting from incidents occurring in Carpool.
However, with standard $0.54/mile IRS tax deduction drivers receive, Carpool becomes essentially non-profit rather than commercial services, with payments merely equating to “gas money.” So it seems possible that Lyft (or Clara Rides) is relying on private insurance to cover any necessary claims under the program.
At the end of the day, Lyft hopes Carpool will be another way to bring people together and create a more efficient flow of traffic. Affordable, predictable, and flat-rate pricing makes Carpool an attractive option for thousands of commuters and provides drivers with some relief from the high cost of their daily commute. And if the service proves successful, Lyft intends to bring other cities onto the platform in the near future.