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06.19.17 | 12:10 pm

Lyft’s new “shuttle service” sounds an awful lot like a city bus

Lifehacker this morning published a story about Lyft's new "shuttle service," which is currently being tested in San Francisco and Chicago. Lyft describes it as a "low fixed fare along convenient routes, with no surprise stops." 

The write-up was pretty glowing, calling the service "much more convenient to take than a Lyft Line." It went on to describe a few drawbacks: The service happens during peak commute hours and "you're only picked up and dropped off in certain spots." Hmm, that sure sounds like a familiar service. Twitter, unsurprisingly, went to town:

Is a car on a set route with set stops just a smaller, privatized bus? Common sense says yes. But perhaps Silicon Valley abides by something other than common sense. 

06.13.17 | 9:54 am

This Ohio judge is ordering DUI offenders to download Uber and Lyft

Don't call it a crazy idea. Michael A. Cicconetti, a municipal court judge in Painesville, Ohio, has an interesting way of sentencing people caught driving under the influence. In addition to fines and jail time, he tells them to download Uber and Lyft to their phones. As the Painesville News-Herald reports, Cicconetti says downloading the ride-hailing apps as a condition of probation may inspire offenders not to drink and drive. The newspaper says Cicconetti is "known internationally" for his creative sentences, but this one, he insists, isn't one of them. "There's nothing crazy about it," he told the News-Herald. "It's just common sense. Now that we have the technology and most people have the ability to do that, why not make it part of their sentence?"  

[Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images]

06.06.17 | 8:47 am

Lyft has yet another partner in the self-driving car race

Less than a month after announcing a partnership with Waymo, Lyft is now joining forces with Boston-based autonomous car company nuTonomy. The partnership is designed to help both parties better understand how autonomous rides should work. NuTonomy signed a memorandum of understanding regarding its driverless cars with the city of Boston in December 2016 and has already driven cars on certain specified roads. For now, both Lyft and nuTonomy are in the process of integrating Lyft's platform into a couple of nuTonomy-outfitted Renault Zoe cars. In the immediate future, Lyft and nuTonomy will be shuttling a group of employees around Boston to test the ride experience as it develops a timeline for rolling out a beta service for the general public. NuTonomy is currently piloting a self-driving taxi service in Singapore in collaboration with Grab Taxi and Peugot S.A. 

06.01.17 | 2:40 pm

Despite being “woke,” Lyft is just as white as every other Silicon Valley tech company

Lyft has joined the glut of big-name tech companies to release its diversity stats. They are unsurprising: white men making up the majority of the ranks, particularly in positions of leadership. About 42% of employees are women. Women also hold roughly a third of leadership positions. In tech, women represent an underwhelming 18% of engineers. Like other tech companies, Lyft promised to do better. To get there, it's partnering with Paradigm, an organization that plots out inclusion strategies for companies that can't figure it out on their own. 

05.25.17 | 1:00 pm

Lyft gets black-car service

Lyft has been aggressively expanding in the U.S. this year to catch up with Uber. Now it's launching a black-car service. It's an interesting move for a company that in its original conception encouraged riders to sit in the front seat with drivers. Lyft already offers higher-end rides in BMWs or Mercedes through its "Premier" program. The black-car service is aimed at more business class riders and also offers drivers, who already use a more luxury car to drive for Lyft, a way to expand their earnings. The black-car service has two tiers, Lyft Lux and Lyft Lux SUV. It's first rolling out in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and San Jose.

05.17.17 | 3:01 pm

Uber and Lyft may be back in Austin soon

Today, the Texas Senate passed a ride-sharing bill detailing the provisions under which companies like Uber and Lyft can operate. The new bill, if signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott, could override an Austin rule that requires ride-hailing apps to fingerprint its drivers. Both companies left Austin a year ago after they were unable to come to an agreement with local officials. 

05.17.17 | 11:47 am

Trump does Uber and Lyft a favor with law that lets federal workers expense ride-sharing

The ride-hailing industry is getting a boost today. The U.S. government has passed into law the Modernizing Government Travel Act, which allows federal employees on official business to expense rides from Uber and Lyft. The government has been tight-fisted about covering employee travel since 2012, when hundreds of government employees were treated to a swanky conference in Las Vegas. It's yet to be seen what official travel budgets will look like under Trump. 

05.17.17 | 9:00 am

Lyft and Delta are teaming up to let riders earn SkyMiles

Lyft is launching a new rewards program for riders that will help them accrue Delta SkyMiles. For every dollar spent on a Lyft ride, Delta SkyMiles members can earn three miles. There's no cap on the number of miles users can earn and the miles won't expire. Delta is exclusively partnering with Lyft on this program. 

"We're really excited about the different ways we can work with Delta to create innovative rewards for our customers," David Baga, chief business officer at Lyft, told me by phone. In the past, Lyft has partnered with other airlines like Southwest and JetBlue to offer passengers airline miles on rides to and from the airport, and Starbucks, giving cardholders points in exchange for rides. It also has a list of brands it teams up with to provide drivers with discounts. These deals represent an opportunity to lure customers with added benefits and get them to associate Lyft with travel. Uber, too, has linked up with companies to offer benefits to drivers and riders, partnering with Visa and Capital One, as well as mobile phone service providers, and fueling stations among others.   

[Photo: Lyft]

05.16.17 | 10:55 am

How the Lyft partnership gives Waymo a huge advantage over its rivals 

Google's self-driving unit, Waymo, is getting a huge leg up over rivals via its new partnership with Lyft, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. In a new research report, they estimate that Waymo is already logging several thousand miles per day, whereas Lyft's drivers do millions of miles per day. In effect the partnership, depending on the terms of the deal, could give Waymo access to that much more pertinent driving data. Very few companies dealing in autonomous cars have access to good quality ride data and certainly not at Lyft's scale. 

Uber is developing its own autonomous technology, but its ability to deploy it inside its network may be stalled by a legal battle with Google. Meanwhile car manufacturers building self-driving cars don't have a network with which to test their technology, which means the miles they're capturing are low quality. What this means is the partnership with Lyft could put Waymo in a good position to license out its tech to car manufacturers who are behind on the self-driving front.  

05.15.17 | 5:37 am

Lyft and Waymo are teaming up to collaborate on self-driving cars

The No. 2 ride-hailer and the Alphabet-owned Waymo have signed a deal to collaborate on bringing self-driving cars into the mainstream, reports the New York Times. The two companies will team up on pilot projects and product development efforts for autonomous-vehicle tech. The exact details of what those efforts entail are unknown, but the news is sure to rattle Uber, currently the world's largest ride-hailer, which is also investing heavily in self-driving-car technology.

04.25.17 | 10:56 am

Lyft drivers sue Uber for allegedly tracking their movements

Lyft drivers are taking legal action against Uber for a program called "Hell" that allegedly tracked their whereabouts and pushed incentives to primarily drive with Uber, according to a complaint filed with a federal court in San Francisco. From the suit:  

"Defendants intentionally developed spyware that allowed it to gain unauthorized access to computer systems operated by its competitor, Lyft, and pose as Lyft customers. Using Hell, Uber employees, contractors, and/or agents were able to access the location of up to eight Lyft drivers (e.g., Class members) at one time and obtain their unique Lyft ID. Each Lyft ID Is unique, akin to a social security number, which allowed Uber to track Lyft drivers' locations over time." 

This is just the latest example of Uber being accused of using technology to thwart competitors and regulators. Read more here.

04.17.17 | 1:05 pm

Uber may be forced to add a tipping option in NYC

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission plans to draft a rule requiring ride services that only accept credit cards to offer a tipping option. This may mean that Uber will finally have to add tipping to its app.

"We have not seen the proposal and look forward to reviewing it," an Uber spokesman said. The company says it has worked with NYC's Machinists Union to launch new tools and policies in the past. Last month, Uber rival Lyft—which already lets consumers tip in app—said its drivers had surpassed $200 million in earned tips. On a call with the Independent Drivers Guild, a driver for Uber, Lyft, and Juno, Luiny Tavernez, noted "When I drive with [Lyft] whatever the cost of the transaction they charge us 25% and I almost always make that 25% back with tips."

[Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images]