A Lyft user.
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Lyft has roots in carpooling.

By Kia Kokalitcheva
April 5, 2016

As they say, the more Lyft riders, the merrier.

Lyft, the San Francisco ride-sharing company best known for its signature pink mustache logo, said Tuesday it will expand its short-distance carpooling service to six new markets the week of April 11. During that week, the service will become available to passengers in Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia, San Diego, Silicon Valley, and New Jersey.

Lyft originally debuted the service, which lets passengers request to share their ride with others nearby who are headed in a similar direction for a lower fare, in the summer of 2014 in San Francisco. It has since expanded it to Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C. Its main rival, Uber, introduced an identical service that same day, and has since made it available in a total of 29 cities.

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Currently, Lyft Line makes up almost 40% of all rides in markets where it’s available, the company says.

Though most consumers think of ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber as private car services similar to taxis, Lyft’s founders got their start in carpooling when they founded their original company, Zimride. Zimride was a marketplace that let drivers and passengers match up for long trips, like going from San Francisco to Los Angeles, to share the costs and the experience. In a way, Lyft Line—and Lyft Carpool, the company’s new service for work commute carpooling—is the company going back to its roots.

 

For passengers who have extra time to spare, these carpooling services are a welcome way to save a few bucks on each ride. But for the ride-hailing companies, they’re a way to eventually increase their earnings by packing more paying passengers into one ride. For now, however, both Uber and Lyft are heavily subsidizing their carpooling services as they work to entice passengers with low prices to increase the demand, though Uber recently told The New York Times that the service is profitable in “many” of its cities.

Founded in 2012, Lyft has raised $2 billion in total funding and is currently valued at $5.5 billion.

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