The latest ride-sharing tech innovation to come out of San Francisco is a bus
Tech companies in San Francisco are coming up with new and innovative ways to get from point A to point B every single day. First Uber and Lyft revolutionized the transportation industry with a phone app that allowed you to hail cars that would pick you up and drive you to your destination in exchange for a fee — kind of like a taxi, but without the regulations. Then Uber Pool and Lyft Line let you share your ride with other passengers going along a similar route for a cheaper cost, kind of like carpooling, but without any idea or control over of what sort of weirdo you might be sitting next to in a cramped back seat or how long the trip might take.
Now, Lyft has transformed the industry again with Lyft Shuttle, a service that will pick you and other passengers up from predetermined locations, travel along a predetermined route, and drop you off at other predetermined locations.
Sound familiar? It’s because Lyft Shuttle is a fucking bus.
Lifehacker profiled the new service Monday morning in a post that hailed (sorry, sorry) Lyft Shuttle as “more convenient” and “2-3 times cheaper” than Lyft Line. The post outlined how it works as well as some of Lyft Shuttle’s drawbacks:
[Y]ou walk to a nearby pick up spot, get in a shared car that follows a pre-designated route, and drops you (and everyone else) off at the same stop. So, basically, you share a ride with other people (most of the time) so your ride price is lower, but you know exactly how long the ride will take because you’re on a pre-designated route.
Drawbacks: the shuttle service is only available during commute hours and you’re only picked up and dropped off in certain spots. That said, the routes currently offered (shown in the map below) go to most neighborhoods that I visit and I live in downtown San Francisco so there are plenty of stops near me. If you have a similar situation if and when Lyft Shuttle comes to your city, this is a convenient—and more affordable—alternative.
The article even provided a map of where the service is offered in downtown San Fran:
It took a few eagle-eyed commenters to point out, however, that Lyft Shuttle is a bus.
To be fair, buses do get a bit of a hat tip in the body of the post in relation, not in relation to Lyft Shuttle, but to other Lyft services (which the author describes as “much, much cleaner, faster, and more pleasant” than public transport). Absent, however, is any acknowledgement that this is yet another instance of the tech industry using its “innovations” to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. Instead of investing in ways to make already existing services better for everyone to use, Lyft has just created a parallel service that will only be accessible to people with money. Unsurprisingly, the shuttle routes perfectly coincide with some of San Francisco’s most expensive neighborhoods.
As urban spaces become more and more unlivable for everyone except those lucky enough to have six-figure incomes, it’s not hard to see how apps like Lyft Shuttle are hastening that process. Drivers of yellow cabs in New York City have seen their fares plummet, and there is a serious concern that cities will invest limited resources in private transportation services like Uber and Lyft instead of repairing their public transport’s crumbling infrastructure. Lyft Shuttle might be clean, safe, and not overcrowded, but it’s also gated.