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rideshare is a great way to save money. It’s cheaper than a taxi, and in some cities it can even be a viable alternative to owning a car. Plus, you can see an estimate of the price you’ll pay upfront (as opposed to a taxi, where you’re at the mercy of the meter).
Still, rideshare services aren’t free, and the costs can add up for frequent users. Sometimes, you can help reduce the cost by sharing a ride with a friend and splitting the fare. This isn’t always possible, though. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to get the same price benefits of sharing a ride with a friend even when you’re traveling alone?
This is what you get with Lyft Line, the service that allows you to get a reduced fare in exchange for sharing your ride with other passengers headed in the same direction. Let’s examine the service in more detail, including where the service is available, how to use it, and how much it costs.
- What is Lyft Line: The Basics
- Where Is Lyft Line Available?
- How Much Does Lyft Line Cost?
- How to Request a Lyft Line Ride
- Lyft Line FAQs
While Lyft is a rideshare service, you only share most rides with the driver and any other friends or family traveling with you. This is ideal for many situations when you want to get around in a private car but can’t or don’t want to drive.
Lyft Line, on the other hand, is more like a carpool, in that you share the vehicle (and the cost of the ride) with other Lyft users. Lyft Line encourages drivers and riders to occupy all available seats in the car by connecting riders who are headed in the same direction. This means savings for everyone, making Lyft Line a particularly attractive option in large cities where fares are more expensive.
How does Lyft figure out how to match different riders during the same route? They use the GPS technology in smartphones to find riders who are headed the same way as your ride and then adjust the route slightly to fit them in. During a given Lyft Line ride, you might be the first person to get in the vehicle or you could get picked up as part of another Line ride that’s already in progress.
It’s even possible that no one will be added to your ride, in which case you still pay the same low fare. Line is essentially a form of informed speculation on Lyft’s part. They offer discounted prices based on the assumption that other riders will be along the same route headed the same way.
Lyft Line is available in most major cities across the United States and Canada, including New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Denver, and Toronto. To see if it’s in your city, visit the Lyft.com “Cities” page, type in the name of your city, and scroll down to view the ride options.
Lyft Line isn’t available in all cities because there has to be a significant volume of users (and popular routes) for it to make financial sense for the company. In smaller cities, there simply aren’t enough riders available to share the rides. And even in larger cities, Lyft Line isn’t available in all areas (especially the suburbs).
Lyft Line is always cheaper than other Lyft services. There’s no exact formula for how much you’ll save by taking Lyft Line, as the amount depends on your city’s fares and current traffic conditions. For individual rides, however, Lyft will show you your savings compared to taking a standard Lyft ride. Here’s an example of the cost of a ride in Chicago:
In this case, the savings are significant, with Lyft Line costing around half of what a regular Lyft ride would.
You should also know that you will pay slightly extra if you bring another passenger with you on your Line ride. This is because Lyft Line relies on you being able to share the ride with other passengers. When you bring another passenger along, you decrease the capacity to add additional passengers.
The extra money helps compensate the driver just in case they aren’t able to get other fares due to capacity issues. When you book the ride, you’ll have the option to add another person (and see the fee for doing so):
The fee for an additional passenger varies based on the ride, but even with the extra charge, you’ll still pay less than you would for a regular Lyft.
Lyft Line rides are easy to request. Assuming Lyft Line is available in your city, you’ll see it as an option called “Shared” when you open the Lyft app to book a ride. Just tap on it, put in your dropoff and pickup locations, and then confirm if it’s just you or if you’re bringing another person along on the ride.
Note also that you may have to wait a little longer for a Lyft Line ride than you would for a regular Lyft. This is because the driver may be picking up another passenger before getting to your location.
Now that you understand the basics of Lyft Line, here are answers to some common questions new or prospective riders have about the service:
1. Does Lyft Line use different vehicles than the regular Lyft service?
No, the vehicles are the same as for regular Lyft rides. Drivers who do shared rides also do regular Lyft rides, and possibly even other Lyft services such as Lyft Lux or Lyft XL (if their vehicle meets the requirements).
2. Do Lyft Line rides take longer than regular Lyft rides?
Generally, yes. The extra time comes from dropping off or picking up additional passengers along the way to your final destination. That being said, sometimes you’ll end up having a ride that no one else gets into. In this case, the time the ride takes could be the same as a regular Lyft ride.
3. How many people can fit in a Lyft Line ride?
Lyft Line vehicles have the same passenger capacity as regular Lyfts: four people. However, because the rides are shared, you’re only allowed to have a maximum of two people in your party. This prevents issues with passenger capacity that could happen when, for example, a ride already has three passengers in it.
4. What is the etiquette for Lyft Line?
Lyft Line rides have some additional rules that you should be aware of. The main difference compared to other Lyft rides is that you’re not allowed to change your destination mid-ride, run errands, or stop for any reason while the ride is in progress (unless it’s an emergency, of course).
Also, drivers will wait no more than one minute to pick you up for a Lyft Line ride, so make sure you’re ready to go when the vehicle arrives.
5. Are there any drawbacks to taking Lyft Line?
Objectively no, but there are a few convenient aspects of a Lyft ride that you won’t get if you’re using Lyft Line.
Because they’re sharing a car with other people going to the same area of town, Lyft Line riders can’t change their drop off points or make multiple stops. It’s strictly for going from point A to point B. If you need more flexibility, be sure to book a regular Lyft ride.
You’ll have to travel much lighter in a Lyft Line than you would on a typical Lyft ride. Because the car is shared with as many other riders as it will fit, the tradeoff is that space is at a premium. If you’re traveling with luggage, it is best to book a Lyft and save the Lyft Line rides for rides across town.
Since Lyft Line connects users to fellow riders who are headed in the same direction, and the matches and pickups are dictated by the app (not the driver), riders will not always have control over the order in which they are picked up or dropped off. Therefore, use Lyft Line when you have a little time to spare, just in case.
6. Should I tip my Lyft Line driver?
Tipping is always optional for Lyft rides, but your driver does appreciate it. They get to keep 100 percent of the tips you give them, and it’s a nice way to show your gratitude for excellent service. Learn more about Lyft tipping etiquette in our complete guide.
7. Is Lyft Line safe?
Yes, Lyft Line is safe. The drivers for Lyft Line undergo the same background and DMV checks that regular Lyft drivers do, and you can also give them feedback in the same way you would with any Lyft ride.
The other passengers added to your ride are also subject to Lyft’s same code of conduct and rating system. If you ever feel unsafe or have any issue with your ride, you can always contact Lyft support (or call 911 in an emergency).
8. Is Lyft Line accessible to passengers with disabilities?
Yes, it is. Just as with all Lyft rides, drivers are required to accommodate passengers with disabilities to the fullest extent possible. You can bring your service animal with into a Lyft Line ride, as well as any mobility aids or equipment you need.
Do keep in mind, though, that the shared nature of Lyft Line rides means that there will be less space for you, your service animal, and anything you bring with you. If you’re concerned about this, we recommend choosing a regular Lyft ride.
9. Does Uber have a similar service to Lyft Line?
Yes, they do. It’s called UberPOOL, and you can learn all about it here.
10. How can I get started driving with Lyft Line?
Anyone eligible to drive for the regular Lyft service can also drive with Lyft Line. To learn more about how to get started driving with Lyft, check out our step-by-step guide to becoming a Lyft driver.
Ride Lyft Line Today to Start Saving
We hope you now have a better understanding of how Lyft Line works, as well as how it can help you save money the next time you need to get somewhere. We hope your next ride is safe, pleasant, and fast!
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.