By on July 27, 2017

lyft press kit photo, Image: Lyft

Taco Bell and ride-hail company Lyft announced plans this week to debut “a unique ride-thru” experience called “Taco Mode,” which will allow patrons to request a pit stop at the nearest Taco Bell location. Lyft claims it’s the perfect option for “passengers seeking the ultimate Taco Bell experience.”

While riders can already request to be driven to the restaurant with some of the worst-maintained bathrooms imaginable, Lyft promises the app makes the overall endeavor of  buying fast food “more convenient — and fun — than ever.”

Why would these companies join forces? According to the press release, it’s because they “are two like-minded brands at the forefront of technology and innovation.” Don’t laugh. After all, Taco Bell was the company that realized you could make a taco shell out of fried chicken, while Lyft was the organization that took Uber’s business model and added furry pink mustaches.

They also both serve the late-night community. The restaurant chain provides a “fourth meal” to individuals that are too drunk or stoned to cook and the ride-hailing service keeps them from endangering others by stopping them from operating a motor vehicle. On the surface, it seems like a natural fit for a genius cross-marketing opportunity — until you place yourself into the shoes of the driver plighted to slop these disgusting animals in the backseat. 

Lyft drivers aren’t universally enthusiastic about the idea. Scanning Reddit yields a general sense of outrage among a subset of contracted drivers. One of the biggest threads’ first responses was, “All ‘just a quick stop’ [requests] are money losers. I’m getting paid $2.39 for this short ride, now I have to spend 15 [minutes] in a Taco Bell drive through to make my car smell like fast food. With no extra pay from Lyft. No thanks.”

Like Uber, Lyft doesn’t provide its drivers with company cars; they personally own and are responsible for the vehicles used to transport customers — the maintenance, the cleanliness, everything. So it’s understandable they would be apprehensive about someone eating in the backseat. We’ve mentioned before how cleaning expenses can seriously add up for hire-a-car services; encouraging patrons to load-up on messy Taco Bell would almost assuredly exacerbate this.

“I’m not dirtying/staining my van and making it smell like dead animals for a couple measly bucks before depreciation, risk, time and taxes,” exclaimed another Reddit user. “I NEVER eat or let friends eat in it myself, so I’ll be damned if some drunk dude will be.”

The good news is that divers aren’t obligated to engage in any activity they aren’t comfortable with. Since it’s their vehicle, they’re allowed to ask you leave for any reason and refuse any requests. Taco bell may not be aware of this, however.

“We realized that for every person who has asked their Lyft driver to make a pit stop at Taco Bell — and we’ve seen many — there are likely those who weren’t sure if this was possible,” Taco Bell CMO Marisa Thalberg said in a statement. “With the advent of this fantastic partnership with Lyft, we will erase any lingering uncertainty and celebrate the ability to ‘ride-thru’ in Taco Mode.”

If you’re a little tipsy and want to test the waters, using the app does warrant you one free Doritos Locos Taco. But please be respectful enough to ask the driver in advance and toss them a few bucks if they are willing to comply with your “run for the border.”

Taco Mode is first being implemented in California July 27th to 30th and August 3rd to 6th, between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. Lyft hopes to expand the service into additional markets by year’s end and go nationwide with it by 2018.

We reached out to Lyft for a statement regarding the driver complaints but have yet to receive a response.

[Image: Lyft]

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