Lyft's roll out of a pilot program called Lyft Shuttle, where vehicles follow set routes, picking up and dropping off people at pre-designated stops, was panned by some critics as an unnecessary re-invention of the city bus. But it's not—instead, LyftShuttle offers another choice than the city bus. When it heads to areas not currently served by city buses, it'll offer a service that didn't exist before. Either way, it can exert competitive pressures that could prompt public transit agencies to do better in order to keep up. It could even lead to a regulatory environment where more competitors can enter the market, benefiting many people.
I'll be on AirTalk on 89.3 KPCC in Los Angeles at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time (2:30 p.m. ET) to talk about this with guest host Libby Denkmann and Slate's Henry Grabar, who will voice criticisms of the Shuttle to which I'll respond. You'll even be able to call in to ask questions! Tune in if you're in Southern California, maybe stuck in late morning traffic, or listen live online.