Ride sharing is all the rage these days. Normal people giving other normal people a lift in their spare time= fewer cars on the road and an easy way to make some extra cash. But which service to choose? Follow the story and choose your car service:
After selling your software application to Yahoo at the non-voting age of 17, you treat yourself to a bespoke Tesla Model S and take it for a spin up and down San Francisco’s foggy hills. You stop at the Ferry Building for Blue Bottle espresso—a warm shot of caffeinated happiness in the life of a Silicon Valley celebrity. You peek out onto the Embarcadero, and catch a faint glimpse of your luxury car as it’s being hauled away by a tow truck. You grab your iPhone 5S.
- Contact Lyft for a ride.
- Contact Sidecar for a ride.
- Contact Uber for a ride.
You contact Lyft for a ride. Ten minutes later, a white Subaru with a big pink mustache on the dashboard pulls up to the curb. The twenty-something driver honks happily and waves. You’re instructed to sit in the front passenger seat and the secret handshake (fist pump) is demonstrated. The driver gushes, “Right on!” Not in the mood, you grunt at his incessant need for chatter and small talk. “So how’s it going dude,” he asks in his surfer voice. You close your eyes and visualize paddle boarding off the Na Pali Coast to tune out the driver and his ska music while you wait to reach your destination.
Tagline: Your friend with a car
Availability: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Paul, and Washington, D.C.
Pricing: Suggested donation given after each ride – paid via smart phone with credit card attached to your account profile
You contact Sidecar for a ride, and include the address for AutoReturn, San Francisco’s graveyard for towed cars. You appreciate knowing exactly how much you are paying prior to submitting the request. A beat-up Camry pulls up after eight minutes. The driver is relaxed and pleasant, assessing whether you want to be engaged or left alone. The ride seems better and cheaper than a taxi. You take note for future reference—if ever your Tesla gets towed again.
Tagline: My ride is your ride
Availability: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
Pricing: Suggested donation given after each ride – paid via smartphone with credit card attached to your account profile
You contact Uber for a ride. A sleek black sedan arrives within three minutes. A man in a black suit greets you with a discreet hello and opens the back passenger door as if you are getting into a limo. Inside, there’s bottled water, mints, gum, tissue paper, and magazines. No small talk. Only the beautiful sound of silence. You don’t want the trip to end as you sit back, relax, and enjoy your life as a celebrity.
Tagline: Available locally, expanding globally
Availability: 18 countries
Pricing: Depends on vehicle choice. UberX is the cheapest option; Base fare + per minute charge below 11mph or per mile charge above 11mph; Paid via credit card attached to your account profile.
Catherine Gacad is an opinionated advice columnist blogging about the San Francisco Bay Area, travel, finance, retirement, current events, and living a magical life. You can find her blogging at Dear Vixen or tweeting @cgacad. Catherine has a BA from UC Berkeley (Go Bears!) and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.