Lyft joins the 20th century with innovative embrace of the telephone

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Those disruptors in Silicon Valley are at work again. This time it is Lyft, the ride-sharing car, that heralds a major innovation. Lyft will now make its service available to people without the company’s app. Instead, users can make a phone call to a dedicated number and speak to a Lyft agent in real time to request a ride. Lyft calls its new service Call a Lyft Ride.

The phone, a telecommunications device recently pioneered (in geological terms) by Alexander Graham Bell, is an innovation that allows Lyft to reach new users who are hesitant or unable to use the company’s normal smartphone-based app services. It’s specifically designed to attract seniors, so it’s probably no coincidence that the new initiative is starting today in 38 Florida cities.

The service is available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, Monday through Friday. This is how it works. The rider – or a loved one acting on their behalf – calls 631-201-LYFT (5938) and speaks to a live agent. The agent provides a price for the ride and the caller pays over the phone with a credit card. Information about the trip can be sent to the customer via SMS. The vehicle is sent to the location and takes the rider wherever he wants, be it to a doctor’s appointment, to the hairdresser or wherever. How all that is easier than “Call the taxi company, give the taxi driver cash” is a question we think could be asked by your smartphone-averse grandmother in Boca Raton.

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Nonetheless, it seems likely that the service will become available in other locations as well if the idea catches on. However, Lyft is not saying what its expansion plans are so far.