Lyft bringing back shared rides, will require everyone to wear masks

Air travelers walk toward a Lyft pickup area at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on August 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

Lyft said Thursday it’s bringing back its shared rides booking option in select U.S. markets for the first time since the pandemic.

After initially being battered by the pandemic, rideshare companies are starting to report an increase in customers. Bringing back shared rides, a cheaper option, could attract even more price-conscious customers — especially as costs have shot up due to a misbalance in driver supply and rider demand.

It’s also a sign the company is confident in Covid recovery, despite being reintroduced while only about 59% of all U.S. adults are fully vaccinated. The highly contagious Delta variant is also raising concerns about further infections.

Starting Monday, consumers in Philadelphia, Chicago and Denver can book the option that allows multiple passengers to split a car that’s going in the same direction. The company said it plans to expand to more markets in the coming months.

As part of the reintroduction, Lyft is introducing new rules meant to curb the spread of Covid-19 in its rides, including limiting the number of seats and required mask-wearing.

Here are the new rules:

  • All riders and drivers are required to wear masks.
  • Each shared ride will be limited to two riders total to help maximize physical distance (this also means that riders will not be able to book a Shared ride for two people at this time). 
  • The front and middle seats must be kept empty.
  • Eating and drinking are not allowed during the ride.
  • If anyone in the car isn’t following the above guidelines, riders and drivers have the ability to cancel the ride without penalty and report any issues to Lyft.

Uber, the company’s main rival, also pulled shared rides last March and has yet to reintroduce the option.

“We’ll explore re-launching Pool when the time is right and will follow the guidance of health experts,” a spokesperson told CNBC.

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