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Lyft riders can finally schedule rides

For drivers, it's business as usual.


Today, Lyft announced that it will be rolling out the ability to schedule rides ahead of time in San Francisco at no extra cost. No, Lyft isn't departing from its "on demand" roots; it still works pretty much the same, just with a scheduling option.

Essentially, a rider schedules a pickup (24 hours in advance max) but the platform won't request the car until just before the scheduled time. So drivers will still have the ability to accept or reject a ride. If one rejects it, Lyft's routing algorithm will send the request to the next available driver.

The ride request will go out an undisclosed amount of time before the scheduled pickup time in order to leave enough room for drivers to accept and then arrive on time (the company wouldn't specify how much time before the pickup the request goes out because they're testing what works best).

The company is still testing what to do during prime time — Lyft's version of surge pricing — to see whether the increased fare will affect scheduled rides.

"We're looking at all the possible scenarios to see what the best experience for passengers and drivers will be," Lyft spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt told Recode.

It's a feature that passengers have asked for in the past, he said. And one that Gett, which is only available in New York in the U.S. but operates all over Europe and Israel, has offered for more than a year. Advance booking, according to Gett CEO Shahar Waiser, is a major advantage when it comes to business-to-business services.

The new feature stands in stark contrast to many of Lyft and Uber's other services. With carpool imitators like LyftLine and UberPool — which are cheaper than personal rides — Uber and Lyft have looked more and more like public transportation or shuttle services. The scheduled ride, on the other hand, is a staple of black car and limo services that often cater to people traveling for business, to the airport, or for corporate accounts in general.

Update: This post was updated to include details on how the service will work during "prime time.

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