Escapes

Q:

What Are Some Alternatives to Hailing a Cab?

Your days of hailing a cab curbside are over.     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A:The days of waiting for Old Yellows to appear are gone, replaced by smartphone apps that make catching a ride only a few taps away.

With TaxiMagic, travelers can book a ride with a nearby taxi or schedule a pick up. Then, track the taxi’s progress (no more waiting outside in the rain). Plus, passengers can pay with a credit card and receive an e-receipt via the app. The service is available in more than 60 cities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the U.K.

Hailo also allows passengers to summon a taxi to their location (with a GPS pinpoint). The service was started by taxi drivers and is available in 15 cities, including Atlanta, New York, and Washington, D.C.

The popular service Uber got its start with private drivers, but now offers choices between taxis, everyday cars, or chauffeured town and luxury cars or SUVS. Riders can also opt for the closest driver, no matter the type of ride. The app shows typical rates for the city—Uber is available in more than 50 of them around the globe—or riders can enter pick-up and drop-off locations to get a fare quote. Fares are also paid via credit card with the app and can easily be split between riders. However, be aware of surge charges, which can double or even triple the normal price during high-demand times.

For 21st-century ride sharing, travelers are tapping Zimride. Passengers set up social profiles that include items such as interests and musical tastes (who wants to ride with someone who is pumping top-40 hits when you’re all jazz?). Commuters can also join or offer rides to destinations across the city or even the country. Costs are shared, too, with travelers submitting their contributions via PayPal. Zimriding is particularly popular among the college set and is available throughout the U.S.

For rides from “everyday drivers,” download and book a ride with Sidecar or Lyft—the latter service’s drivers are easily identifiable thanks to the pink, furry mustaches on the fronts of their cars. Members of the public sign up to be drivers with these companies to share rides and earn extra dough on their daily travels. Riders submit requests, get matched with a driver, track the driver’s progress to their location, and submit payment via the app. Riders can pick their chauffeur for the hour based on the driver’s arrival time, price—which the drivers set—rating, or the vehicle quality. Sidecar is available in eight major cities; Lyft got its start in San Francisco and is now operating in 18 cities. 

Miss Daisy has nothing on you now. 

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