Lyft is offering lower-cost rides if you're willing to wait longer

Christine Fisher
Contributing Writer
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 24: A man waits for a ride-hailing service at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, August 24, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect riders and drivers alike, Lyft has paused Shared Rides in all markets. But doing so eliminates its most affordable ride option and could create a financial strain for many users. So today, Lyft is expanding a new Wait & Save pilot to most of its riders across the US and Canada.

With Wait & Save, users can opt for a longer wait time and pay a lower fare than the Standard ride price. Drivers will earn the same amount either way. Users will begin seeing the new option in the app alongside the Standard ride modes. In general, the longer you wait, the less you’ll pay.

The pandemic has caused the demand for ridesharing to drop, but Lyft says it has seen an increase in rides to essential locations like supermarkets, pharmacies, laundromats and banks. According to Lyft, 40 percent of rides in the US start or end in a low-income area, making affordable rides even more important.

“As the COVID-19 situation intensifies, it’s clear that Lyft provides access to transportation for essential services, and is a lifeline for many communities,” the company wrote in a blog post. “We know that there are many who rely on Lyft during this time for rides to the grocery store or pharmacy, to work at essential businesses, or to care for loved ones.”

The company has promised to compensate drivers infected with COVID-19 or forced to quarantine, shifted to deliver food, medical supplies and other essential items and offered free scooter rides to medical workers. But Lyft has also laid off nearly 1,000 employees due to the pandemic and its impact on business. While Wait & Save could help riders looking for affordable rides, it may also give Lyft a needed boost.