"One persistent criticism for ride-sharing services is that they don’t actually do much to reduce the number of cars on the road." Your car is just replaced by a Lyft or an Uber.
Moreover, the word ‘sharing’-economy is also being criticized as money making rather than actual sharing. "Stop saying Uber is part of the sharing economy. What is being shared besides your money? Lyft and Uber really, is just an up-to-date Taxi Service.” – Fast Company
Focus on actual carpooling and strive for real "sharing."
Treat drivers as ‘Good Samaritans’...
There’s always at least one driver on the road, heading the same way you are.
- Instead of creating more ‘supply’ (of drivers), let’s better utilize every empty seats on the road.
1. Activate the ‘Good Samaritans’ in us.
- How might we incentivize drivers to help out ? outside of money?
- How might we contain 2 steps UI flow for every interaction ? UX/UI Design Criteria
2. Implement connectivity to improve road experience/safety/conditions.
- How might we democratize road data? Decentralize data? Blockchain?
- How might significant pattern recurrences lead to actions?
Today, I met up with Frank Yoo, the Director of Product Design, and a few fellow designers at Lyft; Patrick, Sam, and Vicki, to start a conversation and gather some feedback.
A Lot of fun conversations!
Feedback was really positive. The team said I gave them a whole lot of new perspectives on how people use Lyft Line. "The idea of diving into very specific ‘micro’-moments of a user’s journey was very compelling." It sparked a lot of conversations, because the fact is... everyone riding on-demand rideshare service are running late.
"Your concepts really push the limits of Lyft Line’s fluid system, and I like where you are going."
"Your Lyft Line Challenge was a great example of how the work we do as designers impacts people’s daily lives."
I was encouraged to uncover more nuances and 'micro-moments' of a traveler's journey, while considering how data points could help us travel efficiently and sustainably.
Coming from Hong Kong, I grew up loving transportation. However, public transportation system itself has never changed. Buses are stuck and defined by its route and time schedule.
I am exploring design opportunities in the field of transportation:
I want to make both suburban and metropolitan transportation travel more sustainable by providing a flexible peer-to-peer service that drivers and riders can depend on.
From listening to both riders' and drivers' stories for 30 days, I have mapped out Lyft Line's pain points and highlighted a several design opportunities.
As a country, we are wealthy, diverse, and technologically sophisticated. Yet, our basic need for transportation is largely neglected in major cities. Some even say we’ve lost the sense of community that used to carry us throughout our day – even a gentle greeting is rejected. Today, people live in their own world and don’t have time for others. Some say our modern work life and social media technology have fueled this isolation. Have we become so caught up in our own lives that we don’t notice life outside of our bubble? Are we less willing to see each other as neighbors?
I am an interaction design student in San Francisco.
With a college student budget, and a lack of free time, I take my commute hours as free time to myself. I keep myself updated with a newsfeed, read my saved articles, catch up with Facebook, my Instagram followers, etc. All of these make it hard for me to acknowledge others around me.
After 3 years of commuting to school, I decided to venture beyond the typical MUNI transportation experience. I wanted to test out other ways of commuting. I decided to try the hip thing, using technology, the very thing that is isolating us, to commute to school via connecting with other car rides instead of public buses. So for the next 30 days, I challenged myself to commute as much as I could using Lyft Line.
Lyft Line is one of the three ride option offered by Lyft, the on-demand rideshare service with unabashed pink mustaches. The philosophy of Lyft Line is to conveniently and neighborly get commuters from point A to point B with the least possible of vehicles on the road. Commuters who are heading towards a similar and close destination share a Lyft ride at a low cost, up to 60% off the original Lyft. Lyft is betting that it can use economic incentives to change people's attitudes of ridesharing. Lyft’s founder believes that Lyft Line is the future of the company’s ambition. Needless to say, I was pretty excited by the prospect of having a better way of commuting.
A Few Ground Rules
- Avoid public buses, but if I must, I would wait for no more than 4 minutes.
- Avoid any bus trip that required a transfer.
- I should leverage my connections to carpool, and finally any ride should be conversational.
Hopefully, I would make a few connections, lessen my commute time, and get some free time to myself before and after classes.
Note: For a better reading experience, I have changed the date of following blog posts, so it can be displayed chronologically. The challenge took place from Oct 5 to Nov 6.
September 2: the first day of school. I hailed the first Lyft Line of the challenge. Although I didn't have a carpool, I had a much clearer understanding of how Line worked.
I launched Lyft's app at 7 am, an hour before my 8 am class started. The passenger request screen immediately prompted after (Image 2). As a Lyft rider, this is a familiar screen with the addition of the Line option on the top of the screen. Toggling between Lyft's services: Line (Carpool), Lyft (Lift), and Plus (SUV), the map below gives me live data of available cars around me. In my case, I selected Line.
The First Step
The first step of setting a pickup is entering my destination. [In version 2.5.2], the map zooms out to the city of San Francisco, with my frequent locations, ‘Home’ and ‘Work,’ already pinned on the map (image 3). In my case of commuting to California College of the Arts, it is already pinned as 'Work.' After entering my destination, Lyft gave me an upfront fixed cost of $9 for one person (image 4).
By selecting 'Request Line,' the system begins 'matching' my ride (image 5). While waiting, a nifty bit of animation begins scrolling by at the bottom showing people’s profile pictures. After a minute or so, my start point (green pin) and end point (red pin) are connected with a potential route, with a driver on his way to pick me up. Image 6 shows Nic with a Gold Honda Accord who is expected to arrive in 6 mins.
By 7:06, I received a text message from Lyft, stating ‘Nic is arriving soon’ and reminded me to wait outside. By 7:09, I was heading to school. I arrived at school by 7:28, I gave Nic a fist bump and thanked him. The next thing to show up on the app is a rating of my driver, from 1-5 stars. I gave Nic a five star. Our conversation was fun and he offered me water and mints. I even downloaded an album he recommended. When I checked the time, I was shocked. I had 32 minutes to spare before class. I remember thinking, this was the most stress-free commute I’ve ever had, ever. I could totally get used to it.
By Day 3, I was sold.
What was fascinating to me is how well Lyft designed its experience to directly dictate its philosophy. Lyft is illustrated as a flowing pink balloon, which is an obvious representation of getting lifted. The visual for requesting a lift is front and center, it is Lyft’s way of saying that requesting a lyft is the main priority. By clearly entering my start and end points, Lyft Line is potentially drawing a real time bus route – combining and hybridizing riders' destinations. When matching and finding a ride, the nifty animation of people’s friendly faces illustrate Lyft is friendly and community driven.
By the end of week 1, I was fully embedded in the culture that Lyft had cultivated.
Lyft’s casual branding identity is perfectly suited for car-sharing. Lyft drivers’ cars are marked with a pink mustache on their grilles, and when you get in, you are supposed to sit in the front seat, not the back. You are greeted with a fist bump, an implicit invitation to chat, and sometimes goodies. Sometimes drivers display their other jobs/passions/hobbies with brochures and decoration. Albeit sometimes campy, it made me excited to see what my next driver was interested in.
About half of my trips were carpooled!
The experience feels less awkward than people might think, as if I was engaged with a friend or neighbor rather than a chauffeur and a stranger. I’d never thought about it before, but it was exactly the kind of atmosphere I wanted in a daily carpool. Some of my shared Lyft Line passengers were actually my neighbors whom I had never met before.
She even gave me a slice of her homemade banana bread!
The Negatives beginning to come to light
I realized everyone using any on-demand car service are running late. As a result, drivers are stressed out. Additionally, I was very annoyed with the nifty matching animation, especially because it appeared so variable and arbitrary. It is very frustrating to find out my matched driver could be 30 minutes away.
Price fluctuates every minute during Prime Time
Reliability is the key to anybody’s morning commute.
When a Lyft is set to pick up a rider, the expectation is that the rider will be at their front door and ready to go. The reason is pretty obvious; any shared ride service is dependent upon being on time, otherwise everyone’s late, frustrated and grumpy. Thus, Lyft drivers are only set to wait harshly for a minute, before it will move on to the next stop. This will also result in charging riders a $5 cancellation fee. That happened to me once, as I was still in my apartment elevator.
The end of the challenge. I was surprised that I spent less than expected.
I spent $145 on Lyft. I was even more surprised to find out I spent $67 on Uber, for 1/4 of the rides that I got on Lyft Line!
Uberpool offers a noticeably larger quantity of drivers without snooze time.
Without snooze time however, it led to the failure of Uberpool in pairing potential carpool. Not unexpectedly, I was charged more using Uberpool. Lyft Line gives me a fixed discount rate up front, giving me, the rider, more rider confidence and not skeptical with the money making mindset.
One persistent criticism of ride-sharing apps is that they don’t actually do much to reduce the number of cars on the road. With the launch and success of Lyft Line, Lyft had potentially changed our independent culture. Lyft Line has created an entirely new culture of trust and community that had never existed in history. In the past 30 days, I had introduced myself every ride, met really cool people by chance, and felt my social interaction skills become even better. It’s hard to believe, but my daily commute is now seamless, and also responsible for improving my social interaction skills.
Over the course of 30 days
I noticed Lyft is consistently troubleshooting and improving their system. There were times when I was matched with three riders, and there were times, when my rate was extra low. Many UX improvements were done with update 2.5.2 with added ‘Set Pickups,’ which gave on upfront cost before hailing. The pairing and matching period was also extended during the ETA to pick up the first rider. However, the system stops matching once a rider is on board. The system is currently capped at two trips, four stops, I would like to see Lyft expanding their cap in pursuit of their ambition of a sustainable future.
Improve snooze time by scheduling at least 15 minutes ahead
Now that I have completed my challenge, I have a few suggestions in improving Lyft Line. First, is being able to improve their snooze time. Perhaps, being able to schedule a Lyft Line ahead of time would be the best feature for it to become a dependable and dedicated service for commuters, instead of those who are only running late. A schedule based on when I need to be there, or when I need to leave would be simple and stress-free. The system would have more time to match potential carpools, while riders can better plan their mornings around the set time. This could also give flexibility and 'predictability' to the drivers, drivers can now accept an hour worth of pick ups and drop off in a way that accommodate all seats.
Perhaps to make it more flexible, giving riders choices for pick-up times could be another feature.
Improve on microinteracitons
Other helpful micro-interactions to delineate my experience versus the other riders would be enforcing color indicators. For instance, my route could always be marked as pink while others are marked as green.
Lyft Bus Line?
Finally, Lyft Line has the potential to scale into a larger system, a Lyft Bus Line that draws on-demand bus routes.
Feb 24, 2015
$5 flat rate? Sure. Who knew it was gonna last for 30 days!
On paper, both Lyft and Uber sound precisely identical. They are nose-to-nose competitors, and media surrounding this fact is pretty heated. After being fully immersed in Lyft and the laidback, neighborly culture it tries to create, Uber's prestige and corporate feeling became pretty clear.
My overall experience with POOL was good; my bank account also fared well during the $5 POOL Party. With the economic incentives, it was fascinating to see uberpool's system functioning at its maximum capacity. It created so many demands, every uberpool ride was a carpool. For the first time, I saw a proof-of-concept experiment really come to life, it was fascinating.
The entire Uber app feels like an MVP; Minimal Viable Product
It gets its job done by getting its passengers from point A to point B efficiently and economically. It has an in-app GPS for drivers (even though it sucks), as well as the the lowest fare among its competitors. (The In-app Uber GPS is clearly designed on a computer, and not for the environment it would be used in – a car; text are too long and font sizes are too small for drivers to interpret, while the text-to-speech audio literally reads everything out-loud.) Outside of the scope of efficient and economically travel, Uber doesn't do much. Compared to its competitiors, Uber lacks culture, brand stories, micro-moments, and all-in-all a real human experience.
Every time I get on a POOL, I asked myself, why am I on an UberPool again? Oh, it's still $5 and I am moderately late. Some of my trips were just ridiculous (see image 2,3). If I knew my carpool routes ahead of time, I would have canceled these trips and hailed an UberX instead. My feedbacks to Uber were responded quickly, and the pairing algorithm seemed to be a bit better the further I got into the month.
Throughout my POOL journey, I tried to document my trips by taking screenshots, photos, and selfies. However, because I often was told to sit in the backseat, I didn't get to communicate really well with my driver and passengers. Since there’s an unspoken rule of passenger seating – first passenger sits in the back seat, while the second passenger sits at the front seat.