This past winter was hell: single digit temps and an endless supply of snow and ice -aka, hazardous biking conditions. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time NOT biking this winter. My bike almost slid out from under me when I was biking in the protected bike lane on 1st Ave when I hit a hidden patch of ice from someone who'd dug out their car. The resulting anxiety combined with the extremely low temps (the kind that makes it near impossible to keep your hands and feet from going completely numb) made me give up biking for about 6 weeks. Sad bike was sad...
So in addition to the subway, I relied on the following ride apps to get around.
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Uber works excellently here. Except for the occasional extreme surcharges during busy times (e.g., New Year's Eve, extreme weather), Uber is comparable in price to a yellow cab and is usually a little less since you're not expected to tip. Since I now live on a street rather than an avenue, it's a bit more of a hassle to hail a cab, so it's nice to have a car waiting for me downstairs when I'm in a rush, especially when I need to get to the airport and I'm lugging a huge bag. Uber is especially great if you live in one of the outer boroughs since there are pretty much no cabs there.
Lyft, get your act together! I'm sure you're great in the Bay Area, but you guys are NOT working here.
I signed up for Lyft when I found a promo for 4 free rides up to $20. The very first time I used Lyft, I got a 100% surcharge! Yes, it was a Saturday night, but still! There was no inclement weather and it wasn't a holiday, so what gives? I emailed Lyft about this ridiculous surcharge, but they refused to budge. I wound up paying more than I would have for a yellow cab, even with the $20 off.
Another huge problem I faced with Lyft was drivers asking me to cancel my ride requests. One time, it was during the day on a Saturday and I was at a major intersection in Astoria I was asked by four different drivers to cancel my ride request. Another time, I just needed a ride 30 blocks south of me on the UWS and I was asked by two different drivers to cancel rides.
One of my drivers got VERY lost, claiming I requested a ride to a street other than what I'd requested - I double checked and yes, I did put in the proper address (the street she thought I'd requested had two digits reversed from the actual street I requested).
Finally, the last driver I had offered us free water and candy (not creepy...at all...), drove extremely slowly and my friend sitting near him said it looked like he could barely see.
So yeah, pretty much all four rides I had with Lyft were a disaster.
I use this app on a daily basis since I need to get across town for work. As all New Yorkers know, cross town busses take FOR-FREAKING-EVER, so if you can afford a cab, it's totally worth it. In sum, this app is for people who are commuting to daytime jobs within Manhattan.
Via rides are a $5 flat rate (plus $0.44 tax), but here are the catches:
1) Right now, this service is available only between 110th and 32nd Streets in Manhattan. However, the company claims they will soon be expanding their service area.
2) The service is available only on weekdays between 6:30am and 9:00pm, aka when daytime workers are usually commuting.
3) You will be sharing your ride with others who request rides on your route. The majority of the time I've used this app, I've never had to share a ride. There was only one time where having to pick up other passengers nearly made me late.
4) The service is NOT door-to-door, so you will be asked to meet at an intersection on an avenue or street going in the direction you need to go. In my experience, my pickup point was up to three blocks away.
5) You need to purchase rides in advance in either $20 or $50 increments in order for your ride to be only $5. Otherwise, your ride will be $7. Because of the taxes, you'll always have change left over when you purchase rides in advance. You have the option of automatically refilling your ride credits to $20 when your ride credits drop below $10.
6) Because this is a ride-sharing service, your wait time might be up to 10 minutes. I've never waited longer than that. What I usually do when I'm getting ready to leave in the morning is book my ride before I'm done getting ready to save some time.