Lyft launches $3 carpool rides in certain “hot spots”

If you were sad when Lyft’s “Match Muni” promotion ended, today is your day.

The company has introduced a new kind of ride discount in San Francisco: Lyft HotSpots. So far, it has designated four intersections in popular parts of town. If you order a Lyft Line at one of the “HotSpots” and take it within the designated area — most of San Francisco proper — your ride will only cost $3.

It’s a creative premise. Lyft wants as many people as possible learning to use its Lyft Line feature because that makes the carpooling more efficient. But it couldn’t charge Muni’s price of $2.25 for all Lyft Lines forever. With a HotSpot promo, Lyft has introduced a more sustainable way to grow its carpool business.

Not everyone will be able to order from these intersections — after all, four intersections in a large city is pretty limiting. Those who are already near the hotspots, however, will likely easily and quickly get matched with others standing nearby, which limits the amount of time drivers must spend picking up passengers. It also brings the on-demand transportation sector one step closer to public transportation on the continuum of travel options. Where else do you gather in popular intersections to collectively share rides with people?

The discount timing is a little weird though. Just yesterday we broke the news that Lyft told new drivers it might not fulfill the $1,000 sign up bonuses it promised them. Lyft would only give money to the people whose paperwork processed in time — which isn’t a factor the drivers can control. Although this move didn’t technically break the reward rules, it was still a bait-and-switch that angered many drivers.

In light of today’s hot spot discounts, it’s clear Lyft is not entirely cash-strapped. Why isn’t it fulfilling all its promised driver bonuses?

Here are Lyft's hot spot intersections, as well as the designated area you must be dropped off in to receive the discount
Here are Lyft’s hot spot intersections, as well as the designated area you must be dropped off in to receive the discount