Dear Lyft, Here is a Free Idea

Pink School Buses for Dynamic Large Carpools

Dear Lyft,

I would like to share with you a Free Idea that you can implement to keep making your app better!

Here is the idea:

Lyft should buy a fleet of school buses, paint or vinyl wrap them pink, add the Lyft logo and start operating some real bus-style Lyft Lines with fully dynamic routes.

Why

First, this is great marketing for Lyft. Seeing pink school buses all around the city would give Lyft lots of visibility.

Next (though I don’t know the unit economics of the business), it seems to be the case that minimizing time between rides, optimizing overlapping routes, and keeping carpools as full as possible increases the efficiency of the system and also increases payouts for Lyft and the driver as well as minimizes costs to the rider.

This seems to me to be a natural extension of the Lyft Line carpool service, but it just is a way to lower the price and increase the utilization of the carpool car.

Why this could work for Lyft

This idea, or a variant of this idea seems to have popped up a few times in San Francisco before. There was Leap and there is Loup and Chariot, but all of those seemed to get off to a bumpy start.

They were positioned as luxury buses and hailed as exemplars of all that is wrong with San Francisco. I agree that they were marketed in a very off-putting way. However, I think there was also a big irony to their PR troubles because these shared-bus services got significantly more flack than Lyft which operates mostly private taxi-cars! Certainly a private car or two-person carpool is more gaudy than a shared-bus.

Lyft has a much less elitist positioning than Uber, and a larger community feel for drivers and passengers. Lyft has a large network of passengers while these other services were very tiny. Lyft could take advantage of this existing network and density to make this service much more effective than these others.

If you posed this question to someone who rides Lyft: Would you ride a Leap bus? Likely they wouldn’t because it would be a new app to install and may not work where they are. But if you said to that same person: Would you ride your Lyft Line on a bus if it was $3 and only a few minutes slower? I bet many Lyft riders would say yes.

All Lyft passengers are somewhere on the demand curve. People might say, this is a good deal for $5 but not for $9. Or, I’m willing to do it for cheaper and wait a little longer. Lyft tested a feature where it was cheaper if you were willing to wait 10 minutes. I think if we saw a shift from a $6 Line price to a $3 Line price, which becomes even more comparable and less than less than a dollar different than the MUNI price, you would see huge increases in the demand. And for Lyft it seems demand increases lead to increased utilization and better routes.

I think if they could do large dynamic carpools (or bus routes) and add only a five minute delay and halve the cost this would be very popular. I think it would not get the pushback because people already ride Lyft, and so would likely ride a cheaper version of it.

I think if you had the parameters of: $3 ride, normally only 5 minutes longer, and you have to be outside and waiting or it leaves, it would be very popular! Lyft and Uber have both written about a “perpetual ride” idea, and I think they should make it work with school buses!

What do you think? Let me know on
twitter
@jkeesh or recommend below!

P.S. A few other free ideas: A Lyft recommendation service where you get in a car and they will randomly take you to a restaurant or bar (and partner with those businesses). And a “Take Me to the Party” button where they will take you to an event/party (optionally hosted by Lyft). They are already giving rides to a lot of people going out, they could coordinate a large event easily.


Update via Marty: Seems several of those services are out of business. Leap is bankrupt, Chariot is still open, and it is unclear about Loup. via [1] [2]