Need to catch a ride? You don't need to hail a taxi anymore. Now you can pull up your smartphone, hire a driver, and join the rapidly expanding world of ridesharing.
Ridesharing is a service that arranges one-way transportation on short notice. The two biggest ridesharing companies are Uber and Lyft. The biggest difference between them is their availability. As of early 2017, Uber is found in more than 250 cities in 45 countries, while Lyft is in more than 60 cities in the United States and Southeast Asia.
To use a ridesharing program, you’ll need:
Thankfully, Uber and Lyft both work the same way, so feel free to use whichever is best for you. Download either app to your smartphone to sign up for an account. Enter your name, phone number, email, and payment information. Now you’re ready to ride.
Here's the main map screen. See all of the cars in the image below? These are all of the available drivers near you! (You're the blue dot in the middle, in case you were wondering.)
Enter your destination, and a nearby driver will accept your request. You can even watch the driver move on the map as he or she gets closer to your location.
The driver then picks you up and takes you to your destination, and your credit card is charged automatically. The entire transaction is handled by the app; the driver does not handle any cash or credit card information.
The price of ridesharing will vary depending on how far you’re going, the time of day, and the type of vehicle you’re requesting. Both Uber and Lyft offer three types of cars:
Depending on the time of day or if there big events in town like a concert or sporting event, there may be surge pricing, where prices temporarily increase due to high demand. Don’t worry, the app will warn you about the price spike before you request the vehicle.
Ridesharing services make safety a priority, but you still need to exercise caution whenever you hire a driver. Here are some tips to help keep you safe:
To learn more about ridesharing safety, review our Legal & Safety Issues in the Sharing Economy lesson.
Want to drive for some extra cash? Perhaps you can become an Uber or Lyft driver! In order to become a driver for either company, you must do the following:
While it is hiring drivers now, Uber is preparing for a driver-free future. It is currently testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, although the company doesn't know when its technology will be ready for mainstream use. You can read our lesson on self-driving cars to learn more.
Ridesharing is a convenient and budget-friendly way to travel on short notice. As ridesharing continues to expand, it will only become easier to find nearby transportation whenever you need it most.