Taxicabs have been the traditional vehicle for hire in North America, but recently, ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber are shifting the scene.
• Uber is a San Francisco-based American transportation network company that launched in summer 2010, and uses a smartphone application to receive ride requests and then sends these trip requests to their drivers .
• Lyft, launched in summer 2012, is also a San Francisco-based ride-sharing company. Similarly, Lyft’s mobile-phone application facilitates peer-to-peer ridesharing by connecting passengers who need a ride to drivers who have a car .
Smartphone-driven ride sharing is really altering the dynamics of taxicabs. The beauty of being able to see where active ride sharing drivers are located within your vicinity is so convenient. The technology is amazingly accurate – from the number of drivers are nearby, the estimated pickup time, and to live details of where drivers are currently driving. Customers no longer have to wonder city streets after a large event to scramble for a ride. Customers no longer need to wave wildly to flag down a driver. Wait, does a lit taxicab light mean that the car is free or occupied? This service has eliminated the need to pre-book a ride to the airport, or call the taxicab dispatch to inquire where their ride is when the taxicab is delayed. It’s wonderful to have the payment process handled seamlessly, and not have to worry about having enough cash to tip.
It’s easy to get setup:
1. Download and install the ride app – (i.e. Lyft or Uber) from your smartphone app store (i.e. Apple App Store for iPhone users, Google Play for Android users).
Sign-up using the following links to get credits towards your first ride:
• Get $20 towards your first Uber ride
• Get $20 towards your first Lyft ride.
2. Create your profile.
• Your smartphone number: When you request a ride, you and the driver can communicate via phone/text through the smartphone number registered in your profile.
• Your credit card number: Your profile requires a valid credit card to be entered. This will be your form of payment after a ride is completed.
• Your email: Electronic receipts of your ride payment will be sent to your email.
Over the past few years, Uber has expanded its network internationally, with networks in some major European cities like Paris, Germany and Spain, and to India and Canada. Over the past few years, Uber launched in Vancouver in late 2014 followed by a launch in Edmonton just before the Christmas season in December 2014. Edmonton’s launch came with free, unlimited $30 CAD maximum rides! What an introduction! Lyft has plans to expand internationally but is currently operating in many major across the United States.
The ride process is simple:
1. Launch your smartphone ride app – (i.e. Lyft or Uber) – to view a map of your location (i.e. pickup point) and all active ride sharing drivers within your vicinity, including an on-going progress of their driving direction and an estimated time of arrival to your pickup point.
2. Request a ride. You can see a photo of your driver and their car, overall ratings/reviews and track your driver’s estimated time of arrival (ETA) to your pickup point.
3. Enjoy your ride. Uber driver have the “U” logo displayed on their dash, whereas Lyft drivers have a large pink moustache affixed to their front bumper.
4. When your ride ends, just pay with your phone. A tip can be added at the same time. Payment is directly billed to your credit card on file.
Some helpful tidbits when using smartphone ride sharing services:
• You must have data or at least WiFi capacity on your smartphone to see where drivers are, and be able to request a ride.
• To use any of the ride-sharing services, you must enable Location access for the app only while using the app.
• If you are roaming, it is important that your cellular plan allows inbound and outbound roaming calls or texts. The driver may need to communicate with you by phone or text if they cannot easily find you – for instance, if your pickup location is at an airport.
• To make it easy for the driver to locate you, be very specific on your pickup point location, and include details of unique landmark or description of something visibly unique that you are waiting beside.
• I recommend monitoring your ride app from the point your request is submitted to when you are actually riding in the vehicle. Your ride should not start until you are actually seated in the vehicle.
• Cancelling a requested ride will incur a charge. Please be familiar with Uber’s cancellation and Lyft’s cancellation policies.
Silicon Valley is shaking things up in the taxicab industry. Change is good. Which ride-sharing app do you use?
“I’m a terrible singer, but it helps when I have to call a taxi.” — Gordon Getty
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 Wikipedia: Uber
 Wikipedia: Lyft
• Lyft vs. Uber: The standoff between the two most popular ride-sharing companies
• Pando Daily: Uber vs. Lyft: A former driver compares the two services
• PC Magazine: Uber vs. Lyft: Which Ride-Sharing App Is Best for You?
• Metro News: Rideshare firm Uber flouting Alberta rules, not just City of Edmonton regulations