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Latest Best of LA

Best Ride-Share Mobile Apps And Sites

September 26, 2013 6:00 AM

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(credit: Sidecar)

(credit: Sidecar)

(credit: Sidecar)

(credit: Sidecar)

Public transit has long been an area where LA has fallen short, but with the rise of innovative ride-share apps, things are looking up. These services provide on-demand rides at the click of a button on your smart phone. Drivers can be tracked in real-time and transactions are cashless (with bill and tip automatically charged to your linked credit card). The type of car that picks you up varies with provider and the option you choose, so everyone can get a ride that fits their personal preferences and budget.

Friendly drivers and a safe experience are a refreshing part of the deal. With a diverse array of drivers with interesting backgrounds that includes psych majors, scuba driving instructors and production assistants, getting from point A to point B can erupt into lively conversation (or even your next gig). Leery about jumping in a car unless it’s the bright yellow type you’re used to? Not to worry, drivers are typically required to pass rigorous standards, and other measures (such as a review system) are in place. Ready to try it out next time you need a lift? Read on to find out which service is right for you.

(credit: Uber)

(credit: Uber)

Uber

www.uber.com

Uber established itself as the answer to LA’s shameful transportation options when it showed up on the scene with its signature uberBLACK “private driver.” As a leader in the on-demand ride category available in more than 35 cities, they’ve expanded their car offerings to cater to a variety of tastes and budgets. There is the uberX the economical choice, uberSUV when you need room for six, uberTAXI and uberLUX for the ultimate luxury ride (and a price to match).

To keep up with the needs of their legions of riders, Uber releases mobile app updates such as the newest innovation called “share my ETA.” This feature allows you to shed light on how punctual (or not) you’ll be for those awaiting your arrival. Fare splitting was added in July in response to riders who don’t want to get stuck footing the bill for their ride companions.

Uber is also brilliant at engaging their community through novel promotions that ante up incentives to use the app. This past summer, users summoned an ice cream truck with the app to beat the heat. In May, they partnered with Equinox to give members a ride in style to and from LA-area clubs in a Tesla Model S. Most recently, they’ve been promoting a contest offering a staycation package in LA called Night on the Town. The free Uber app is available in the App Store for iPhone and GooglePlay for Android users.

(credit: Lyft)

(credit: Lyft)

Lyft

www.lyft.me

Lyft is like Uber’s cool little brother with hot pink facial hair, intended to give you and your spirit a lift. This on-demand service utilizes friendly drivers (many of whom happen to be women) that use their own cars to give rides. Your driver will greet you with a friendly fist bump and welcome you to sit shotgun for friendly banter. The ride ends with a suggested donation and an opportunity for both rider and driver to rate each other. This helps drivers know if a rider makes underpaying a habit, so don’t be surprised if eventually your Lyft request goes unanswered. The Lyft app is available for free in the App Store for iPhone and GooglePlay for Android users.

(credit: Sidecar)

(credit: Sidecar)

Sidecar

www.side.cr

Being founded on the principles of rideshare is what sets Sidecar apart; it’s the only service where both driver and rider have a choice about their destination. With this service, the rider must enter their destination when they request a ride and the driver decides whether or not to pick them up. Riders sit in the front seat and get to chat with a community of drivers comprised of interesting people like entrepreneurs, actors and writers. Some drivers will let you use their phone charger on the way there or even let you play DJ with the stereo, so it feels like you’re riding with a friend!

Sidecar doesn’t have any schedules or shifts, so drivers dictate where and how often they want to drive. So now, drivers can decide to pick people up on their daily work commute or to the Hollywood Bowl for a concert. This helps to offset the cost of driving and the rider knows exactly how much the trip will cost from the get go. A driver’s schedule is flexible, but you can be assured Sidecar’s safety standards are not, with protocols that cover every ride from start to finish. The Sidecar app is available for free in the App Store for iPhone and GooglePlay for Android users.

(credit: Driving Alliance)

(credit: Driving Alliance)

Driving Alliance

drivingalliance.org

Driving Alliance (a new nonprofit organization) takes action against the drunk driving epidemic by giving people a free ride home when they have been drinking at participating venues. As a result, this designated driver service helps to reduce the possible risk of DUI and alcohol-related fatalities. They have launched a program that partners with bars, restaurants and local organizations that promote the use of designated driving. The marked vehicles are parked in front of venues for customers to get driven home free of charge.

“Driving Alliance represents a safe, alternative solution when going out, considering that many people drive their own vehicles to bars knowing that they are going to drink,” said Christopher Martin (CEO of the organization). “It doesn’t take much alcohol to be over the limit, especially when a new proposed bill would lower the legal BAC levels from .08 to .05.” Driving Alliance does not offer a mobile app at this time, but check out their website for venues where they are scheduled to be stationed.

(credit: Groundlink)

(credit: Groundlink)

Groundlink

los-angeles.groundlink.com

This is a no-nonsense platform perfectly geared for the global business traveler. Groundlink offers easy, reliable and punctual ground transportation in more than 110 countries. There are several distinctions that separate this service from the rest. For one, they guarantee to arrive on time (or your next ride is free) and you’re able to schedule rides in advance (in addition to on-demand). They also offer superior curbside and indoor flight pickup, with drivers that track your flight status for a worry-free experience. Prefer a different vehicle, such as a limo or even a party bus? They’ve got you covered. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, after all.

USA Today awarded Groundlink’s mobile app best in class (2011), but if you prefer to request a car on the web or phone it’s available to you. Download it for free in the App Store for iPhone and GooglePlay for Android users.

Joy Bitonio has the phrase “Joie de Vivre” tattooed on her shoulder, a reminder to enjoy life every single day. She has a voracious appetite for fun, adventure, food, good cocktails and works out like a madwoman to keep it all together. Check out her other articles on CBS L.A. She also covers fitness on Examiner. Follow her on Twitter.
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