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Need a ride? 3 ridesharing and 2 taxi apps considered

Jake Widman | Jan. 12, 2015
The time to pick a ridesharing app for your phone isn't when it's dark and cold, there aren't any cabs to be had and you realize you'd really like a ride home. The time to download one is well before you need it.

It's worth noting that this final screen was the first time I saw exactly how much I paid — any fare I might have seen earlier was just an estimate.

Lyft

Availability:60+ U.S. cities/areas

Rates: Vary by city, type of ride, current demand

Lyft is the service that features cars with fuzzy pink mustaches on the front or on the dashboard — silly, but actually helpful when you're waiting for your ride. It began in 2012 as a spinoff of a long-distance ridesharing service called Zimride, and was renamed Lyft in 2013.

The Lyft app is a nicer version of the Uber app — it operates much the same way, but with a friendly turquoise and pink color scheme (starting with a pink balloon rising up on your screen) rather than Uber's starker black and white appearance. Unlike the other apps, registration doesn't require a credit card (though you'll need to register one for payment). And rather than replying to a text message, the message contains a confirmation code you enter into the app. Other than that, the process is basically identical.

The service gives you a map with a pin at your location and a readout of your address, animated cars moving around the nearby roadways, an estimate of how far away the nearest ride is, and a big button labeled "Request Lyft."

Lyft also offers multiple levels of service: Lyft Line (which is currently available only in San Francisco and Los Angeles) is a shared ride option that, Lyft says, can save up to 60% on the fare.

Plain Lyft is a personal ride, available for solo travelers or groups of up to four. And Lyft Plus will bring larger cars and SUVs, aimed at those traveling with suitcases or boxes. As with the Uber app, you select which service you want with a slider.

You can tap on your address to change your pickup point, bringing up a list of nearby businesses as well as a field for typing in a different address. On this screen, you can also save an address as "home" or "work" for easy selection next time — unfortunately, you can't simply designate your current location as "home" or the destination you've already typed in as "work," but it's still a nice touch and a time-saver. When it does come time to enter your destination (after you've already requested a ride), you can choose from a list of previous addresses you've been picked up at or taken to.

After you request a ride with Lyft, the app tells you the name of the driver, what kind of car they're driving, and their license number. And as with the other apps, you can watch the little animated car get closer on the map.

 

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