Lyft may soon allow you to schedule a pickup with at least 24 hours notice. The company announced that it is testing a scheduled ride feature in San Francisco as it seeks to expand its services beyond just the on-demand market. Initially, only Lyft employees will have access to this feature, but we’re told that it’ll quickly scale to riders.
Those with access to this feature can select their pickup location as they normally would on Lyft’s iOS and Android apps and then tap a clock icon to choose the desired time for the car to arrive. Riders can cancel or modify their reservation up to 30 minutes before the requested time, something that Lyft attributes to the different use case — normally you have to cancel within 5 minutes from the time you request a car to avoid being assessed a cancellation fee.
By restricting the test period to employees, Lyft is taking the opportunity to learn about potential usage and behavior. There won’t be any additional fees to use scheduled rides, and there isn’t a minimum fare required. This could all change, however, should this feature be released to the general public, since it’s all being trialed right now. It’s also limited to classic Lyft rides only.
The idea behind this feature is to provide some additional peace of mind to riders when they have planned specific trips, such as getting to the airport or traveling outside of the city. Currently you can request a ride, but you’ll still endure a wait that can vary each day. A scheduled ride capability will eliminate that gamble.
With this feature, Lyft is pushing further into the airport transportation space, taking on companies like SuperShuttle and Airport Express. Scheduled rides could also benefit business travelers, building on Lyft’s recent enterprise-oriented offerings, such as business profiles.
The company has been promoting the idea of abandoning car ownership in favor of having someone else take you around, and the option to schedule a ride in advance certainly fits that vision.
It’s a shame Lyft isn’t yet opening this pilot up to people outside of the company to see if it draws interest and changes existing usage patterns.
Lyft said that it anticipates making scheduled rides available to more people this summer.
Updated as of 11:12 a.m. Pacific on Monday: This post has been updated to clarify that currently a $20 minimum fare is not needed. However, as the company is testing this feature, feedback it gathers could shape whether one may be implemented in the future, as well as other options.