Once upon a time, back when trampolines had no nets around them, and lawn darts littered the land, parents would tell children not to get into strangers’ cars. Now, getting into the cars of random folk has become a highly lucrative business. These private driving services are everywhere, with good and bad all mixed together. To help those in need of a lift, we found the 12 best ride sharing apps for getting around this year.
How We Chose
Picking the best ride sharing app isn’t merely about the app itself. It’s about the company behind it. To ensure riders had the safest, easiest, most pleasant experience, we used the following criteria to rank the apps:
- Safety for Passengers
- Treatment of Drivers
- Availability of Rides
- Customer Support
- Ease of Use
- Additional Options and Features
In the United States
1. Lyft – The Kinder, Smaller Uber
Yes, Lyft took the crown from Uber as the best ride-sharing app. It is generally the better option based entirely on its focus on value, as well as friendlier experience. Statistics have shown that a lower percentage of Lyft riders have had complaints about, or discomfort caused by a driver than Uber. Lyft also caps its surge and premium pricing at 400 percent, which might still seem extortionary, but it shows some attempt to avoid charging $100-plus for a $20 ride. Lastly, Lyft has a 24-hour hotline for rider complaints, where it’s easier to talk to an actual person. Reaching a soul with a pulse at Uber’s call center is a crapshoot.
2. Uber – Everywhere
Uber is more popular than Lyft and Gett, so you can find more rides in more places. It also has a cheaper rate per mile. However, Uber has been hit hard with controversy over its treatment of drivers as well as problems reported by passengers. It also doesn’t cap rate increases during peak times, meaning you could be gouged if you’re going while the going is good. It also has a higher rate per hour than Lyft, so if you get stuck in traffic, you’re paying more to cool your heels. The multitude of ride options are nice, but the lack of focus on customer care isn’t.
3. Curb/Flywheel – Taxis, Reimagined
Curb and Flywheel aren’t truly ride-sharing apps. Instead, they’re apps that interface with local taxi services so you can call a cab without needing to pick a single company. This has several advantages, such as flat rates that never surge, albeit they’re higher than standard ride-sharing. Fully trained drivers, better insurance, and a heavy focus on safety round out the benefits. The downside is the lack of service areas.
4. Wingz – Anytime Airport Shuttle
Wingz is the perfect niche choice for anyone leavin’ on a jet plane, or landin’ on a jet plane. It specializes in taking riders to and from airports, though it’s expanding to include anywhere, anytime travel, for any drunken reason. The best part of Wingz is the flat rate, which has been guaranteed by the company to always be less than other car services. Regular users can also pick the drivers they like, and schedule two months in advance.
5. Via – For Set Route Rides
Via is an app for truly sharing rides. Rather than operating like a gypsy cab, complete with questionable smells, Via users don’t get to select where they are picked up or dropped off. Rather, the app pairs riders with drivers along set pathways to and from popular destinations. Sometimes this means a bit of a walk, but it’s also inexpensive and offers the chance to ride with interesting new people.
6. Waze Carpool
Everything about Waze Carpool is different from other ride-sharing apps. That’s to be expected from a company built around finding alternate routes. Drivers for Waze aren’t making a living doing it. They’re only getting a little gas money to take people where the driver is already going. Riders pay for a seat to carpool to popular destinations, often work, school, or maybe venues. It’s laid back, simple, and seems geared more toward conservation than active transport. The intent is to reduce single driver cars, fill up the HOV lanes, and get people to work, together.
1. Ola – Ideal for India
There’s a lot of people in India. For example, think of a lot of people. Now double that. Now double that again. You still aren’t imagining how many people there are in India. Now imagine all those people are between you and your destination. Ola makes it so you can let someone else handle all those people. It’s fairly safe and affordable, with coverage in most of India and an increasing presence in Australia.
2. Didi – Enter the Red Dragon
Manhattan traffic has nothing on London, and London is just thankful it’s not Beijing. Beijing, on the other hand, is glad it’s not Shanghai. By the transitive property of traffic, that makes China hell for drivers. Didi is the common way to avoid that headache. It’s one of the biggest ride-share operations in The People’s Republic, with branches in Australia. While there’s concerns about driver treatment, it’s often the only option for getting around Mao’s homeland.
3. Grab – SEA Detangler
Servicing Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, Grab does something neither Ola nor Didi can do, which is to handle the transportation disaster that is Southeast Asia. It also does something Uber and Lyft can’t do, which is offer rides on every bicycle, motorcycle, scooter, and rickshaw around. It has a delivery service as well, should you wish to shelter in place.
4. GoJek – SEA Runner-Up
GoJek isn’t as ubiquitous as Grab, which makes it less attractive. However, it has a broader range of services, and will basically deliver anything and everything right to your door, so long as you’re in the Southeast Asia region. However, where it really falls short is in low pay for drivers. So low, in fact, it barely made this list.
5. BlaBlaCar – Social Carpooling the European Way
There are no employees or contractors with BlaBlaCar. Instead, anyone can list their vehicle as being available for riders to hop into. True, that sounds like a game of vehicular Russian Roulette, but BlaBlaCar aims for safety and monitoring at every stage. Prices are very reasonable, but the goal is travel between cities, so being picked up and dropped off wherever you fancy isn’t likely. But the experience is decidedly European, and provides the modern equivalent of backpacking around, sans the dangers of hitchhiking.
6. Cabify – South of the Border
In central and South America, there aren’t a lot of ride-sharing selections. The ones there are aren’t terribly safe. Cabify is as good as it gets, with the option to ride in official taxis, and have your movement tracked by someone you trust right through the app. The fact that is an option, and a necessity, tells you about all you need to know. But, it’s improving, and is still about as safe as any transportation in the areas it serves, aside from tourist buses catering to wealthy visitors.