Lyft unsurprisingly axed shared rides as COVID-19 took hold, but it's rethinking them as the pandemic (hopefully) subsides and demand resumes. The company is relaunching shared rides on July 19th with a few tweaks to both streamline your trips and acknowledge the safety issues of a not-quite-normal US.
You can now request these rides up to 30 minutes in advance, saving you money and increasing the chances that you'll get an optimized route. There also won't be any surprise route changes or delays if you choose the "no surprise pickups" options — you won't be late for work because someone hailed a ride at the 'wrong' moment.
And yes, you'll still have to abide by some pandemic safety restrictions. Everyone in the car will still have to wear masks, and there will be no more than two passengers (both in the back seats). You can't eat or drink, either. If anyone violates the rules, both the driver and passengers can cancel a ride without penalty.
Shared rides will initially be available in Chicago, Denver and Philadelphia, with more cities hopping aboardi in the months ahead.
In some ways, this is as much about coping with Lyft's practical realities as anything. With ridership picking back up, Lyft is facing a shortage of drivers. The shared option could help Lyft keep up while it recruits more drivers, especially among cost-conscious travellers who don't mind some socially distanced company.