An Overview of Ridesharing Apps and Why I Prefer Using Them Over Public Transportation

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Rideshare applications have sprung into popularity over the past nine years. The very first company to introduce peer-to-peer ride-sharing was “Sidecar,” launched in 2010 in San Fransisco. Today we virtually have nationwide services where you can hail a ride with a few presses of your smartphone. If you are unfamiliar with using these apps or want more information about them, I have you covered this month.

First and foremost, allow me to break down what a rideshare application is. With any smartphone, you can go to the app store and look for a rideshare app. The most popular ones are “Uber” and “Lyft.” Once you download that app and fill out an information form within, you can then hail a ride from almost anywhere at any time. When you request a trip, you list a starting point and ending point for your destinations. Then before you confirm that ride, you’ll be granted a cost summary of the trip. The fee for that ride will be deducted from credit or debit information on file that you filled in while getting the app once you have reached your destination. I will also note that Uber or Lyft may have an issue accepting individual cards, so try one or the other if one doesn’t work out.

I utilize rideshare apps often. As someone with ASD, public transportation (bus) can be my worst enemy. The bus can often be hectic, with a vast crowd and an unpleasant smell. Reaching a destination on public transportation can lengthy, and by the time I reach where I want to go, I’m stressed, and I want to go home. With a rideshare app, one push of a button requests a private car, and it’s just the driver and myself. The trip is relaxing rather than stressful. You also have an option to split the fare between friends when taking an Uber or Lyft; that isn’t possible with a traditional cab service. The other great thing about rideshare applications is I know how much I’m going to pay for that ride. With a cab, I don’t know when that meter starts and what I’ll pay at the end of my trip. When I compare prices between traditional taxis or ride-sharing services, Uber and Lyft are cheaper from my experience. Please keep in mind that app services do have something called surge pricing. Surge pricing can raise the cost of the trip if the weather is bad or during rush hour. You will always know the price of the ride beforehand, and it’s not a surprise fee. I try to get my trips when it’s not super busy.

Safety is paramount when using any ride-sharing application. When a ride is requested, you will receive the driver’s name, photo, car make, model, and plate number. Always confirm the plate number before getting in the car. Ask the driver to tell you “your name” because they get your rider profile info when the ride is
requested, so they have to know it. Choose a pick-up/drop-off location a few blocks down from your address if you have any privacy concerns. I’ve never had an issue with any driver, but the first thing I do when they pull up is to say hello and that I’m going to confirm their plate number.

My overall opinion on ride applications is that they fill a role to supplement public transportation. While they aren’t always the most cost-effective option, the ease of use and accessibility factor makes them a convenient alternative. During Thanksgiving, my sister’s mode of transportation fell, though, and she didn’t know if she would be able to make it to dinner. I was able to call her and send an Uber her way, and she was ready to celebrate the holiday with family. If I need to see a specialist, then I take a Lyft because many places aren’t accessible by bus. These applications can be a great boon for anyone as long as they double-check the driver’s plate. I can’t stress that enough. Be mindful of your situation and make sure the car you’re getting into is the one you hailed.

Sometimes technology surprises me when I think about summoning a private vehicle with a phone; that feeling is surreal, and it makes me think of what else we may be able to do with our phones in the future.


Ziggy is a Certified Peer Specialist in PA and currently resides in Pittsburgh. He is a member of the Let’s Act committee, a group of peers devoted to raising awareness about mental health care. In his downtime, he enjoys reading novels and watching nature documentaries.

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