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Lyft reboots shared-ride option with mandatory COVID-19 protocols

Customers in select cities will again be able to share the cost of a trip for a vehicle going the same direction, but masks are required.

Shared rides are back.

Ride-sharing service Lyft is ready to reintroduce its shared-ride option as the US continues to ease pandemic-related restrictions. As it returns, riders will be required to follow non-negotiable COVID-19 protocols, however. According to an announcement from the company on Thursday, Lyft will welcome back carpoolers to share the cost of a ride going in the same direction, but masks will be required for passengers as well as drivers.

Additional COVID-19 policies include no more than two passengers in the vehicle to share a ride, front and middle seats must remain empty, and there is no eating or drinking permitted. Lyft explicitly said that, should either a driver or rider fail to follow these rules, they can cancel the ride at any time without penalties and report the experience to the company.

Aside from the new protocols, Lyft also made a few changes to the setup as a whole. Shared rides remain the most affordable way to book a Lyft, but riders can now have a new option to maximize efficiency. They can choose to have a shared Lyft arrive as soon as a driver is available, or request a shared ride up to 30 minutes out for greater flexibility. In addition, users can avoid "surprise pickups" on a shared route. If they book ahead of time, they'll notice routes with a "no surprise pickups" badge. This option lets riders know their ride won't include a driver picking up any other passengers.

The rebooted shared rides launches in Philadelphia, Chicago and Denver to start, with more cities to come in the near future.