Hailing a tax may be child’s play in New York City, but in L.A. the taxicabs are few and far between. Not to mention they are never where you need them to be. But don’t fret, services like Uber, Flywheel, Lyft, and Sidecar make it much more manageable. Not to mention you can do it all from your smartphone.
Flywheel - An app for iPhones and Android smartphones that lets you hail a cab, watch as your cab approaches, and pay for your cab ride using your smartphone.
Flywheel is a start-up based out of San Francisco that has partnered with Bell Cab Company. The company has around 300 green-colored cabs that roam all over the Westside. The app allows you select your pick up location using your phone’s GPS or the app’s drop-down menu that includes various businesses, music venues, shops, and hotels around Los Angeles. Once you have selected your “location” you will then see icons of all the available cabs in the area. At this point, you can “hail” a taxi and the closest driver will be notified and come pick you up. You will then be notified of estimated wait time and can actually track the taxi using GPS. You are alerted when the taxi has arrived and you’re pretty much set to use the cab just like you would if you flagged them down on the street. The app also has a feature where you can pay for the fare through your phone.
This is the only service of the three that allows you to hail actual taxis.
Uber – “Friendly Service and Clean Cars”
Uber provides two services at this point Uber and UberX. Uber is the higher cost version where you will be picked up in either a town car of SUV. UberX on the other hand involves a Toyota Prius, which can make the longer rides be more cost effective than a normal taxi.
Similarly to Flywheel, both Uber and UberX cars can be requested via a smartphone application. The app will show you which cars are in your vicinity as well as the estimated wait time for one of them to pick you up. Unlike the Flywheel app, Uber’s applications feature a fare calculator so you know approximately how much the ride will cost you from point A to point B.
Currently, my favorite option…
Lyft and Sidecar – Ride Sharing Apps
Lyft and Sidecar are in a class of their own; these are apps that promote ride sharing. You may have seen the abundance of cars with pink mustaches driving around and wondered to yourself why would anyone put that on their car…?
The mustaches are there to let you know which cars/drivers have been given the companies approval. Both of these services do background checks on their drivers to make sure that passengers feel safe and have a enjoyable ride experience.
Lyft and sidecar promote “fun and social” rides. Like the other two companies both these ride-sharing services have their own apps which work in very similar ways. They both suggest voluntary ride “donations”.