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Need a ride? 3 ridesharing and 2 taxi apps considered

Jake Widman | Jan. 12, 2015
The time to pick a ridesharing app for your phone isn't when it's dark and cold, there aren't any cabs to be had and you realize you'd really like a ride home. The time to download one is well before you need it.

Ironically, the problem I had is the kind of issue with traditional taxis (at least, those in San Francisco) that has led to the popularity of Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft in the first place. If hailing a cab with an app doesn't work any better than calling for one on the phone, it's hard to see where apps like Curb are going to help save the taxi business.


Availability:NYC and Philadelphia

Rates: Standard taxi fares

New Yorkers and Philadelphians who get around their cities by hailing cabs may find themselves considering a new way to pay. Way2ride, an app associated with the Verifone point-of-sale tech system, allows taxi riders to pay for a ride without pulling out their wallet (and possibly leaving it on the seat). I tried out Way2ride using its Android app on a Moto X (2013) smartphone.

You register for the app by providing a name, password and at least one credit card. (You can provide more than one if, for example, you want to pay for some rides with a company card.)

Cabs using the system have a Way2ride button on the passenger touch video screen or will have a sticker pasted to the security shield that separates the driver and passenger compartments. To use the app, you hold your phone up to the video display, and the app confirms the ride. (If for some reason the connection doesn't work, you can enter the cab's check-in code into the app instead.)

Way2ride allows you to pre-select the percentage of the final fare that you would like to tip the driver, or you can choose it any time during or after the ride. You can also choose either to automatically pay as soon as the ride is over, or confirm the amount before the payment goes through.

The app tracks your receipts (a very useful feature for anyone who expenses their cab rides) and will email a copy if you want. And after the cab leaves, there is a button to call it back if you suddenly realize you've left something on the back seat.

One thing that Way2ride doesn't do is let you actually order a cab using the app. There is a button on the front page of the app that says, "I need a ride," but apparently the program is still in beta; riders who click on it are put on a waiting list.

It's nice to know that city cabs are trying to modernize their methods. However, for now, if you're somewhere in New York or Philadelphia and can't get a ride by sticking your hand out for a taxi, the alternatives are either a ridesharing service like Uber, Sidecar or Lyft — or an old-fashioned phone call to a local car service.


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