This post originally appeared on the Arlington Transportation Partners blog.
I was pretty excited to learn that Lyft was expanding its carpool service, Lyft Line, to the Washington D.C. region and opted to give it a try for my commute one day last week.OPTION OPPORTUNITIESLike Split and uberPOOL, Lyft Line puts a discounted, app-based carpool option at the fingertips of D.C.-area commuters.
Similar to Split and uberPOOL, Lyft Line allows a person to get a reduced fare on her ride if she is willing to have other people picked up along the way since they are trying to travel in the same general direction. It’s basically a way to create short-lived carpools on the fly.
In theory, this is fantastic news for both riders and drivers in the area. Riders get a reduced fare since they are splitting the ride with strangers and drivers make more money since they are transporting more people. All in all, this could drastically improve the efficiency of our roads by cutting down on the number of empty car seats driving around at any given time.
I hailed a ride and selected “Lyft Line” as the service at 7:29 a.m. (I must admit I was tempted by the Justin Bieber mode to get his new album at a discount because “What Do You Mean?” is so darn catchy). Almost immediately, a nearby driver, Mukalia, accepted my Lyft Line request and arrived promptly at 7:32 a.m. Not bad at all. While waiting for my driver to arrive, I entered my office location in Rosslyn and was given a price estimate of $14.77 for just myself, or $15.77 if it was going to be me and a friend catching this initial stop at the same time. It was just me, so $14.77 was my estimated fare.
My ride originated near Lincoln Park in Capitol Hill so, because it was a pretty lengthy trip during rush hour, I thought this price seemed reasonable. Last month, my coworker Jonathan tried out uberPOOL when it launched in D.C. and bemoaned to me about the fact that his ride routed him along I-395 most of time and likely precluded him from picking up other riders. With Jonathan’s observation in mind, I was pleasantly surprised that Lyft Line opted to route Mukalia along Pennsylvania and Independence avenues SE before jumping onto I-395 at the 9th Street tunnel. Any other hailed ride would have taken me directly to 395 for this trip instead of going along the Southern edge of the mall and near L’Enfant Plaza.
Mukalia seemed jazzed about the launch of Lyft Line and said that I was his first carpool fare. Once we got onto 395 and the GW Parkway, it was not difficult to remind myself why I bike to work – the traffic was awful. If Capital Bikeshare had already been installed along the Mount Vernon Trail, I most certainly would have said “peace” to Mukalia and bikeshared the rest of the way to the office.
Unfortunately, we never passed near another person hailing a Lyft Line ride, so this wasn’t all that different from a typical Lyft experience – it took about 25 minutes (same as my biking time) at a cost of $15.44 once tip was included. All told, it’s great to have another carpooling option in town and I really hope there are more people looking to share the ride the next time I use it.
Photo: Top, a Lyft car in San Francisco’s Chinatown (Karlis Dambrans, Flickr, Creative Commons).