According to Lyft, Prime Time is a percentage of a Lyft fare that is added onto the final total fare resulting in a higher than typical cost for a ride. Prime Time pricing occurs when the demand for Lyft rides is greater than the number of Lyft drivers on the road such as during rush hours, after popular sporting events, or during parades or holidays.
Similar to Uber's surge pricing, Prime Time encourages drivers to go out and complete rides when the demand for rides is high as the drivers will make more money due to the increase in price. This also ensures that there is always a driver available for those willing to pay the increased price. In short, Prime Time is how Lyft satisfies supply and demand.
At the end of your ride, Prime Time adds a pre-determined percentage of your base fare amount onto your total fare. This is calculated prior to the Trust and Safety fee as well as tolls and airport fees. The specific Prime Time percent is calculated based on a function of supply and demand (if demand is much higher than supply, the increased percentage will reflect this and will be higher). Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if Lyft will have Prime Time enacted ahead of time or what the Prime Time percentage may be as the supply and demand can change from minute to minute.
If it is Prime Time you will see a Prime Time notification on your initial ride request screen before you order your Lyft car. The notification will also indicate the Prime Time percentage, so you will always be aware how much extra you will be paying. Keep in mind you have to accept the higher fare before requesting a Lyft ride so there should be no surprises.
Prime Time pricing allows Lyft drivers to earn more money during peak travel times. On the Lyft Driver's App, a heat map is available that will show drivers where the demand for rides in the highest and where they are needed the most. As pictured, the shaded areas display where the Prime Time is in effect. This allow drivers the opportunity to "chase" prime time prices and in effect earn more money per ride. However, a driver does not know the prime time percentage or if there even was prime time on their fare until after they have dropped their passenger off.