feature image via Discover Buenos Aires.
So I spent some time in LA last month and I did something I promised I would never do: I used Uber. Because that seemed to be the LA Way to get around, and when in Rome, etc. But I have so many conflicting feelings about this — drivers raping passengers happens, for instance, and ride-share services can really take advantage of their drivers. Sometimes, though, needing a car to come get you in an unavoidable thing. And Uber, while it’s really smarmy, does have one thing right: when that avoidable car time comes, it is so much more pleasant and convenient to use an app than it is to hail a cab that might not exist, or might pass you by because you don’t look like a cis, straight white dude. Here are a few apps to use that aren’t Uber — I tried to get in as many cities as I could (even though I live in New York City and have the most experience there). Ride-sharing is still like taking a cab, though, so please remember to tip your drivers!
Curb is less like ride-sharing and more like connecting you with professional, licensed taxis and drivers, but in that app-easy way. Because it’s summoning actual taxis, the prices are the same as if you were to hail a cab. It lets you know how far away your ride is and locks taxis that stop to pick up another fare on the way to you out of the app for five hours, so you’re not waiting forever. If you need, for some reason, a fancy car or limo, you can also book those. Curb offers the most cities out of every app on this list by a long shot: 60 of them, including Boulder and Fort Collins, Ann Arbor, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Raleigh. There are. So many. Cities. And from all over the US, too — not just coasts and Chicago! It’s available for iOS and Android.
I met the folks of Via at NY Tech Day (yes, you bet they had women at the table), and they were really rad! When I asked how they were ethically different from Uber, they replied that they were really accessible to their drivers when drivers are on the road — their service team is watching and ready to take calls from drivers experiencing difficulty, and from passengers who have questions or concerns as well. Via is available in Manhattan (below 110th, weekdays $5 plus tax 6am-9pm, $5.95 9pm-midnight) and Chicago (Loop, West Loop, River North, Lincoln Park, and Lakeview, weekdays $3.95 non-peak and $4.95 peak). They’re more for commuting and happy hour transportation, as they don’t operate on weekends. Rides are actually shared with other passengers, much like Über Pool, to cut down on carbon footprint. Download Via’s app for iOS and Android.
Flywheel partners with local taxis, much like Curb, so prices are dependent upon taxis in your city — San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Sacramento or San Diego. No surge pricing here! Not really keen on the all-male team, but it seems like a smaller, more artisan Curb with the potential to expand. You can grab Flywheel on iOS and Android.
Even though Gett is New York City-only in the US, I’m including them here in the hopes that they’ll grow in this country for two reasons — first, they have really excellent advertising around town (“We won’t say who, but our competition is über ripping you off.”) and second, they’re one of the few out there that lets you book a ride ahead of time. Around the world, they do several other cities in the UK, Israel and Russia. It also doesn’t take a cut of a driver’s tips. There’s a flat rate of $10 for rides that start and end in Manhattan below 110, but unlike Via they serve places outside of that area — I just looked to see what it would cost for me to get to my weekly D&D game, which lies outside of this area, and it told me $10.76, which is $5-7 less than normal, but not so insanely cheap that I worry about how the driver is making money. The app is available for iOS and Android.
So what about you — what apps are you using to summon cars to your doorstep? If you don’t live in a city, do you have a hyperlocal on-demand transportation solution (we did in my small town growing up!) and have they adapted to the tech world?