Lyft launches ‘Essential Deliveries,’ but it’s not an Uber Eats competitor

Lyft launches ‘Essential Deliveries,’ but it’s not an Uber Eats competitor
[Photo: Dan Gold/Unsplash]

As demand for rides plummets during the coronavirus pandemic, Lyft says it’s now delivering food, medical supplies, and other necessities with a new pilot service called “Essential Deliveries.” And, no, it’s currently not a clone of Uber Eats.

Instead, Lyft is recruiting drivers to deliver “meals, groceries, life-sustaining medical supplies, hygiene products and home necessities” for nonprofit groups, government agencies, and—Lyft wrote on its blog—”businesses and healthcare organizations.” Lyft says the deliveries will be “contact-free,” and it plans to pay drivers as if they were fulfilling standard rides.

“At this point in time, it’s just for organizations, not individuals,” a Lyft spokesperson told Fast Company. “We are committed to running this current program so long as it is helpful for our communities during the COVID pandemic,” the company said. The service is coming to the following U.S. cities first:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • Indianapolis
  • Orlando
  • Phoenix
  • San Francisco
  • San Diego
  • San Antonio
  • Seattle

Lyft’s rival Uber says it’s also seen a drop in demand for rides. In response, the company has shifted focus to its Uber Eats business and encouraged drivers to do the same. Just this week, Uber Eats was one of the delivery apps named in a lawsuit alleging that such services squeeze restaurants and ultimately customers with “exorbitant” fees.