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Lyft acquires Hitch to expand its new carpooling service

Lyft said Monday it’s acquired carpooling startup Hitch in an effort to expand the multiple-passenger element of its service called Lyft Line. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Snir Kodesh and Noam Szpiro, who co-founded Hitch in 2012 as a service that works to connect people for cheaper ride rates, will join the Lyft team in San Francisco.

“Hitch has always believed the shared rides experience is inherently social, and we’re excited that they’re joining the team to accelerate this movement together,” Lyft said in a blog post announcing the acquisition.

Hitch will shutter for drivers and passengers on Tuesday, though the former will be joining Lyft with immediate effect, the startup said in the post.

Lyft Line launched in San Francisco in August to help cut the cost of ride-sharing for passengers by matching riders taking the same route. Since then, the service has expanded only to Los Angeles, though with the Hitch team now on board, a faster roll out to more US cities is planned.

With customers looking for the best deal, rival firms such as Uber and Sidecar have also launched similar carpooling services in recent months. Sidecar’s Shared Rides service landed four months ago, while Uber launched UberPool in August.

According to Lyft’s research, 90 percent of Lyft rides have another person nearby taking the same or a similar journey, offering money-saving opportunities of up to 60 percent for riders – so long as sharing the back seat with a stranger isn’t a problem.

However, it’s not all plain sailing for the ride-sharing firms’ carpooling services – the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) earlier this month said that while charging a total amount to all passengers is fine, charging fares to individuals in this way is a violation of state law, which prohibits so-called ‘charter-party carriers.’

The ride-sharing companies are currently seeking to resolve the issue with the CPUC.

[Source: Lyft; Re/code]