Lyft aims for speedier trips with suggested pickup locations


No one wants to be kept waiting at a pickup spot when they request a car on their ridesharing app of choice, whether Uber or Lyft. In an ideal world, the vehicle would instantly assemble itself in front of our very eyes the moment we hit the request button, though such a teleportation feature would admittedly do away with the need for transportation services of any kind.

Till then, we’re stuck with waiting around for our driver to arrive. Sometimes they’re quick, sometimes not so much. Sometimes we even have to watch the little car icon on the app as it heads in a direction away from you, perhaps negotiating a detour or stuck in a frustrating one-way system.

If you’re a Lyft rider, you’ll be happy to know that the latest version of its app now offers suggested pickup points so you can start your journey as quickly as possible instead of wasting time hanging around.

But there are other benefits with this feature than simply reducing the time you wait. Suggestions could be a short walk from a busy street to a quieter spot that helps to cut your journey time once you’re in the car.

To use the feature, simply request a ride as usual. Once you’re matched with a driver, the app will assess your location and destination, as well as the position of the driver and the traffic situation, and then suggest a pick-up spot. You’ll also see how much time you can expect to save on your journey compared to if you’re picked up at your current location. And yes, alternative locations will only be suggested if they’re going to save you time overall.

Lyft promises that suggested spots will always be a short walk away, and anyway, you don’t have to select it. If it works for you, tap “update” and head to the suggested spot. If not, just tap “no thanks” and stay right where you are.

If Lyft’s algorithms for selecting pickup points are on the money, then the feature is going to benefit both drivers and riders big time. And it will benefit Lyft, too, because happier riders should translate into more revenue in the long run, right?

Lyft’s biggest rival, Uber, has offered alternative pickup points for a while now, so it’s about time Lyft riders had a similar option.

Uber’s app can suggest several possible pickup locations at the same time — appearing as green dots on the display — and are usually places that have worked well for other riders. If you like the look of one of Uber’s suggestions, you just move your pin right to it and make your way there.