The likes of Uber and Lyft have largely avoided allowing customers to book rides in advance, saying that it wouldn’t fall in line with the idea of on-demand rides. Lyft, however, seems to be changing its tone — the company has announced that it is testing a feature that allows users to book a ride up to 24 hours in advance, according to a report from the Financial Times.
The new feature is currently only available in San Francisco and is limited to Lyft employees. However, assuming the tests go well, it’s likely that the feature will expand to other areas over time. The feature certainly represents an interesting change for ride-sharing services. It also represents another dig into more traditional taxi and limo companies — previously, you’ve only been able to book rides in advance through a taxi service.
There is a reason that Uber and Lyft haven’t offered prebooked rides to date — the companies are worried that instead of responding to requests, drivers will circle neighborhoods waiting for scheduled riders. That’s largely why Lyft is restricting the feature to its employees — so it can learn how drivers react to the feature and whether or not it has a significant impact on customers being able to get on-demand rides.
Of course, the new feature also puts Lyft in an interesting position against Uber — from a customer perspective, being able to schedule rides is a big deal, and it could even cause Uber customers to move toward Lyft instead.
The feature will be particularly useful for those booking trips — you won’t have to worry about getting a ride from the airport to your hotel, just book it in advance and there shouldn’t be a problem.