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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.

The map also shows the route the app suggests the driver take. (Drivers are free to use their own GPS app, too.) This can come in handy if you're in a strange city and are nervous about whether a stranger might take you out of your way — the map gives you an idea of what to expect. In my case, I was going to a friend's house, a route I drive a lot, and I could see that the suggested route was unnecessarily circuitous. I just directed the driver to my preferred route, and we went that way.

When you get to your destination, you can add a tip if you like, by pressing a plus-sign button next to the fare. Like the others, Sidecar also lets you rate your ride, and your driver can rate you. If you like a driver, you can make them a Favorite, so they always appear at the top of your list (if they're working at the time, obviously) and you can find their car on the map.

Third-party apps for taxi services

The convenience of the ridesharing services — the ability to order up a ride when you want one from wherever you are, rather than competing with others on a street corner or hoping someone will come to your fringe neighborhood — has helped them take a big bite out of traditional drive-for-hire businesses like taxis and limos. In tech-obsessed San Francisco, for example, taxi rides are down 65% over the past 15 months.

As a result, established taxi companies have begun to fight back by making use of third-party apps that purport to offer the same kind of services that Uber, Lyft and Sidecar do. These apps don't access a dedicated fleet; rather, they offer an interface to existing taxi companies.

We took a look at two of these: Curb and Way2ride. (I reviewed Curb in San Francisco; Computerworld reviews editor Barbara Krasnoff reviewed Way2ride in New York City.) Both are very different, and while each has interesting features, neither offers the convenience or level of service provided by the new ridesharing companies. In fact, at the moment Way2ride is little more than an alternative payment system, although the company says it will allow you to order cabs from the app in the future.

Curb

Availability:60 cities/areas

Rates: Standard taxi fares (with occasional service fee of $1-$2)

I was hoping to be able to say that Curb is a valiant effort to bring the convenience of Uber, Sidecar and Lyft to traditional taxis, but unfortunately I can't. For whatever reason, I never managed to get a ride with Curb.

 

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