Taxicabs are so flip-phone generation. With ride-share services Lyft and Uber rolling into town in April, your next trip to the airport or home from East Fourth Street just got a whole lot easier — and a lot more social. With everything centered around Lyft's or Uber's smartphone app, you can request a ride, make a payment and even see a photo of your driver. (Try that with a cab.) Drivers are regular people in their everyday cars, though Uber does offer a town-car style service dubbed UberBlack and Lyft is rolling out a luxury SUV service named Lyft Plus. Lyft even encourages riders to sit upfront, making the experience more personal. We took a ride with each service to find out what Lyft and Uber have to offer.
From Playhouse Square to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Thursday, April 30, 9:21 a.m.
From Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to Playhouse Square, Thursday, April 30,
TIME WAITING FOR RIDE
Gray Lincoln LS
Black Kia Sorento
Shady Hanafy, a native Egyptian, was an accountant before coming to Cleveland two years ago. An UberX driver for about three weeks, he signed up after seeing a Facebook ad. "I liked the idea before I was able to hit the skip button," he jokes.
Bill McKisic, a driver for a little less than a week, hadn't even gotten the trademark pink Lyft mustache for his car. As founder and pastor of Church on the Summit in Cleveland's Old Brooklyn neighborhood, he recently began a sabbatical. "I didn't feel like just sitting around twiddling my thumbs," he says. "And I love being around people, so it seemed like a perfect marriage."
$31.63 ($2 base fare + $.30 per minute + $1.40 per mile + $1 safe rides fee; $5 minimum)
$24 ($1.35 pickup fee + $.27 per minute + $1.26 per mile + $1 trust and safety fee; $4 minimum)
The Uber smartphone app displays a fare estimate based on your destination, which makes planning a ride easier, especially when you need to arrive at a set time. Once your ride is requested, you see the driver's picture and what kind of car to expect, which eliminates any confusion when the vehicle arrives.
THE APP EXPERIENCE
Butt dialers beware: When you hit the "Request Lyft" button, be ready for your ride. There's no confirmation screen that follows and cancellations costs $5. But Lyft's app trumps Uber in one regard: While both offer pictures of your driver, Lyft also displays the actual car, not just the model and color.
Even while stuck in a little downtown Cleveland traffic, Hanafy was all smiles during our ride as we talked about how much he's enjoying living in the area. We jumped in the front seat, but Hanafy admits that Clevelanders don't seem to ride upfront as often as people from cities more familiar with ride-sharing services. "But it's more nice if you sit up front," he says with a grin.
THE CAR EXPERIENCE
We forgot to partake in Lyft's recommended pre-ride fist bump. (We fist bumped after the ride.) McKisic was easy to talk to and likes to listen, even when we suggested an alternate route into downtown. He thinks having these services in Cleveland energizes the city's younger generation — even if that sometimes means in excess. "I've picked up people that are just hammered, and they are hilarious," he jokes. "It's nice, though, cause I get to get them home safe."