The other day I was late for work. No, no; it's true. It's a long story, but I found myself five minutes away from work in the middle of nowhere. No houses or businesses for a mile. Reaching for my trusty cell phone, I did what I only do in case of emergency; I called a cab.
Not for the first time, the cab company failed me. This time it was for an unexpected reason. They said that they only serve addresses. That's their decision, and with no addresses nearby, I was out of luck. An hour later I showed up at work, and when I got some free time, I started looking for a better way. I found one.
There are two newer companies servicing the twin cities. They both call themselves "ride shares" to skirt the monopolistic taxi laws.
The first is Uber. Uber provides all of their drivers with smartphones and fancy town cars. In stead of calling, you order them up on an app that has a great interface. People rave about them, and they sound like a great experience to me. They cost almost twice as much as Lyft, so I still haven't tired them.
So let me tell you have Lyft.
Instead of calling an impatient taxi dispatch, I just hit hit a button on my phone. The driver called, but he already knew where I was, and just wanted to tell me he was on his way.
I could see how close the driver was before I decided to order one.
I could see how close he was as he approached. That is huge. No need to worry if he's on his way. No need to check out the window.
They were about 15% cheaper than a taxi. Unlike Uber, they require their drivers to supply their own car and smart phone, which a lot of people already have. Unlike taxis, the state doesn't make them pay heavy licensing fees.
His car was nicer than the most taxis I've seen.
The driver was nicer than most taxi drivers I've met. This is probably because you can see the driver, his car, and his rating a head of time. You can choose a different one if you'd like.
Payment is automatic since the app already has my credit card data. Rating the driver at the end of the ride authorizes the payment.
They gave me five free $25 credits to try them for the first two weeks after signing up. I only used one because I only needed one.
Since he's not in a taxi cab you'd think he'd be harder to spot. That's not an issue because you know when they arrive, and what the vehicle looks like.
They usually have a several drivers to choose from, but not always. They sometimes have none.
I spent about five minutes explaining where I was going to the driver. Eventually I looked up the address of the mall on my smart phone, and entered it into his GPS for him. I wasn't charged for that time, and it looks like they just updated the app to allow you to enter that into the app before he arrives.
The app has no way to tip. Fortunately I had some cash.