Ridesharing is an eco-friendly way of commuting. Sharing your car with other people reduces emissions and contributes to preventing traffic jams. If you’re interested in ridesharing, you might be wondering how you can find rides or how you can turn your usual commute into a carpool.
You’re probably familiar with Uber and Lyft but might not have heard of lesser-known apps like Curb, Gett, or Wingz. These apps provide you with different options for requesting rides, finding a carpool in your area, or hailing taxis.
San Francisco-based Uber is by far the most popular ridesharing service around. As of November 2019, Uber had over 100 million riders who together took over 1.7 billion trips. The app works worldwide, too, so you can count on Uber to get you home even if you’re partying in a foreign country.
Uber’s pricing is fairly competitive with other offerings, and with the number of drivers on the platform, you should have no trouble getting a standard fare ride on most days. If you don’t mind riding with strangers, Uber provides a discounted carpooling option in most cities called uberPOOL to make the expense a little more palatable. If you’re riding with a larger group you can use the app to split the fare among passengers, which is a great convenience for nights out with the gang.
Aside from UberPOOL, Uber offers a variety of ride types across different price points. Here’s a quick rundown of the rides you’ll find in most major cities:
- Uber X: This is Uber’s standard offering. You can expect a 4 door vehicle that is 15 years old or newer.
- Uber XL: This is the standard large format Uber ride. You can expect a 4 door vehicle with 7 factory-installed seats.
- Uber Select: This is one level up from Uber X. You can expect a car model 2009 or newer with a leather or vinyl interior. Drivers are also required to have a 4.5-star rating or higher and at least 50 completed lifetime trips.
- Uber Black/Black SUV: This is the service that started it all. Uber Black and Black SUV offer a city permitted vehicle that is 5 years or newer and driven by a professional licensed/certified driver.
- Uber Comfort: Uber’s newest offering is basically any car from any of these categories that also has extra legroom (so no compact sedans), along with drivers who hold a 4.85 or higher star rating and have completed at least 250 lifetime trips.
Should you or one of the members of your party need it, Uber is one of the few on-demand services offering a disabled access option called UberASSIST. Select it in a supported city, and you’ll get a certified driver with a vehicle large enough to accommodate folding a scooter or folding wheelchair.
Uber is the big papa of the rideshare world, but let’s take a look at a few other options.
Lyft, the second-largest ridesharing app by volume — and our favorite — offers transport in over 600 U.S. cities including New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Making its way to becoming international, Lyft is now available in 12 cities in Canada. Perhaps best known for the bright pink mustaches that once adorned the grills of its drivers’ cars, Lyft offers a range of vehicles to choose from, including average-sized Lyft autos and larger Lyft Plus cars. They have also joined the mass migration towards scooters, with mixed results.
Much like Uber, Lyft institutes demand-based pricing during the busiest hours. Unlike Uber, Lyft caps premiums at 400%. If that still sounds too rich for your blood, Lyft offers a carpooling service called Lyft Line, which lets you split fares between passengers if you opt for a larger private car. Eventually, you’ll be able to hail a self-driving car from Lyft. Check out our in-depth analysis in our Uber vs. Lyft breakdown.
Lyft offers a few ride options similar to Uber. Their Lyft Lux rides are very similar to Uber Select. You’ll be paired with a newer car that has a leather or vinyl interior. Lux Black and Lux Black XL are the top tier rides from Lyft in both Sedan and SUV sizes.
Gett, the Israel-based ridesharing app formerly known as GetTaxi, has a user base that pales in comparison to Uber and Lyft. The service covers more than 100 cities globally, namely in the U.K. and Israel, but recently shuttered its limited presence in the United States as a result of regulation and a desire to reinvest in the corporate transportation sector. Gett users in the States can still request rides through a partnership with Lyft, though, which allows clients to order Lyft cars via the Gett app. Abroad, users can request a variety of transportation options, including both traditional cabs and limousine services.
The biggest incentive for using Gett while traveling abroad, however, is pricing. The service never charges a premium during busy hours and pays drivers a competitive hourly wage rather than a percentage of every fare, like Uber and Lyft. The company then passes those savings on to riders.
Curb was briefly shuttered after an acquisition by Verifone Systems, the San Jose, California-based company that operates in-cab entertainment and payment systems. It’s another ridesharing underdog, but one that’s expanding aggressively — the service taps a network of 50,000 taxis and hire cars across more than 45 U.S. cities.
Fundamentally, Curb works much in the same way as Uber and Lyft: Hail a driver, and you’ll be whisked away to your final destination. Uniquely, though, the service lets you schedule pickups ahead of time in some cities for a $2 fee. Know you’ll need a ride after a long night of ringing in the New Year? Set a time and location, so that a Curb driver will await your arrival. And it never charges surge pricing.
Curb also offers a “Pair and Pay” feature in NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, and Las Vegas, allowing you to pay via the app after entering a matching code for your chosen Taxi Cab.
This San Francisco-based startup started out providing transportation to and from airports. Now, in addition to airport rides, they offer around-town rides in a few, select cities. They are currently up and running in 16 metro areas, including 21 airports. The app also lets you schedule airport rides up to two months in advance, and a flat rate means you don’t have to worry about hidden fees and surcharges. The most unique thing about Wingz, though? Riders can pick and choose their favorite drivers, and the company promises that moving forward, the service will remain less expensive than a taxi or limo.
Ridesharing and carpooling
If you don’t mind hitching a ride with a few others, Via is worth considering. Co-founded by Stanford neuroscience Ph.D. Daniel Ramot, the app uses a “logistics engine” to fill as many seats as possible in cars headed toward popular destinations. Unlike Uber and Lyft, the routes are static — you simply tell the service where you’d like to go and you’ll get dropped off at a nearby location along the way. These static routes mean that you’ll often have to walk a block or two to reach your pick-up location, but Via’s reservation system doesn’t preclude you from bringing a pal or two. The app also automatically finds cars with the necessary seating, and each extra member in your party rides at half price. Via is available in Arlington, VA; Chicago; New York; Los Angeles; West Sacramento, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Birmingham, AL; Cupertino, CA; Washington D.C, and Newton, MA, as well as over 20 countries worldwide. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In 2017 Via announced a partnership with Curb to carpool with others in New York City’s yellow cab. The service is offered through Via and Curb, allowing New York’s taxi drivers to move more passengers, which reduces emissions, and users to pay less.
Scoop is a ridesharing app for iOS and Android that lets you arrange carpooling with your co-workers and neighbors. Aside from promising to provide a convenient way of scheduling trips to meet your daily schedule, it also prides itself on being a social app, letting users “unlock new opportunities to meet people” and improve their overall wellbeing. The app is simple enough to use, allowing you to create a schedule for your daily commutes and then using an algorithm to match you with the most suitable carpool. It lets you use the app as a rider or driver, while also providing a means for sharing the costs of travel. Helpfully, it also includes a rating system for users, so that you can have a little more information on people before deciding to pool with them.
Bridj, an on-demand bus service that was founded and started in Boston by Chicago and Washington, D.C. transportation department head Gabe Klein, supercharges the concept of crowd-sourced busing established by Via, Split, and others. Instead of relying on a fleet of SUVs to transport waiting passengers, Bridj operates 14-seat luxury shuttles with Wi-Fi and leather seating. It’s like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class of the minibus world.
In October 2017, Bridj was acquired by Australia-based Transit System and is working exclusively in Sydney. The normal cost of a one-way journey is a flat $3.10, making it an affordable choice.
According to the company, Arro taps into a database of more than 20,000 licensed taxis to provide clients with on-demand transportation. Unfortunately, at this time Arro is only available in a select group of cities, but if you happen to live in New York City, Boston, Miami, and Houston you can take advantage of the services. Arro works a lot like Uber, Lyft, and the myriad of other well-established ridesharing services. All you have to do is confirm your location and a driver will arrive to pick you up and take you to your desired destination.
Because it relies on cabs, a major perk of Arro is that you don’t have to deal with surge pricing like you would with Uber or Lyft. Also like a traditional cab ride, your fare will be based on the meter. The company also says that unlike some of the other taxi-hailing apps, Arro’s service is much more reliable because pickup requests are sent to drivers through dedicated data terminals on cabs rather than drivers’ smartphones.
There are countless services to choose from when it comes to nabbing a ride to or from events and festivities, but Redwood City-based Flywheel asserts that its system is the most reliable of the bunch. Like Arro, Flywheel recruits cab drivers to ferry users from place to place. However, Flywheel does things a little differently because it aims to replace the traditional taxi meters in its cars with “TaxiOS,” its proprietary smartphone-based system. TaxiOS actually handles all payments and pickup requests.
Of note, Flywheel also offers an interesting alternative to traditional surge pricing. Instead of charging more during certain hours, Flywheel gives riders an incentive to tip drivers more generously during rush hour or other busy times. Unfortunately for most of America, Flywheel is currently only available to those folks who happen to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland, San Diego, or Seattle.
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