The Best New Alternatives to Uber and Lyft
Uber have you down? The Rideshare Guy fills us in on the best competitors.
So maybe you deleted your Uber account in response to Art of the Deal author Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration (although Uber didn’t really do anything wrong) and you’re looking for an alternative, or wondering if you should just take Uber back. Despite the confusion of #deleteUber, there are a number of better reasons to abandon Uber for good. The ride-sharing company mistreats and underpays its drivers. It egregiously violates driver and passenger privacy. It is corporate, through and through. Its biggest rival is Lyft, which has gained more ground on Uber since the ban, but there are a bevy of other alternatives.
It’s not clear whether these alternatives actually stand a chance of dethroning Uber and Lyft. Nor is it clear that they’ll last much longer than the initial honeymoon period. People tend to branch out from the familiar, already-installed ridesharing apps for the new-user discounts, but once those expire it’s back to terra firma. These services may offer five-dollar rides anywhere, or fare cuts on passengers’ first ten rides, or something similar. But fewer drivers, less reliability, and lower-quality app experiences make these offers little more than cheap bait.
Harry Campbell, also known as “The Rideshare Guy,” has been covering this turf each day for over two years. He maintains a blog and runs a podcast, both of which are popular resources for rideshare drivers. Inverse asked Campbell for his opinions on Uber’s up-and-coming competitors.
In the United States, Gett is currently limited to New York City, though Campbell tells Inverse that it’s Uber-level popular in Israel, where it was founded. Still, he’s unconvinced: “There are some drivers that are signed up, there’s some passengers that are taking it, but I haven’t seen a whole lot that really distinguishes them from others.” If you find yourself in New York and victim to Uber’s surge pricing, though, Gett may be worth your time. “I believe that their whole thing, their shtick, is No Surge Pricing,” Campbell says.
Via launched in Manhattan, in 2012, but has since expanded to Chicago and Washington, D.C. Its cars are a bit like upscale, comfortable public transportation: Carpooled rides, low fares, but limited range. “They bring the carpool, uberPOOL-style of rides to cities, and I think that their cars are a little bit nicer, too,” Campbell says. But he doesn’t think it’s enough to differentiate the service. “It’s still more of a premium carpooling service, compared to like an uberPOOL that’s just an everyday UberX — you know, four-door sedan type cars.”
Right now, Juno is only available in New York — but, given what sets it apart, that may change. “Juno’s really done a good job of positioning themselves as the driver-friendly alternative to Uber,” Campbell explains. They are not shy about trying to bring down the giant. “Their passenger receipts basically tell you, ‘Thank you for taking this ride with Juno. This driver made a dollar or two dollars more than they would have with competing services.’” The appeal goes both ways: Passengers can feel better about themselves for better supporting their drivers, and drivers can feel appreciated.
Juno reserves “half of the founding shares — not half of the company, but half of the founder shares — and passes those out as equity to drivers,” Campbell says. “Basically, the more you drive, the more you own of the company.” And Juno’s 24/7 customer and driver support phone line has no equal. “Uber has no phone line, and you can only do in-app support,” he says. “You have to submit an email through the app, and it’s pretty frustrating — for drivers, especially.”
Campbell isn’t too confident that Juno will be the Uber usurper, though. “The riders that I’m talking to in New York right now are taking Juno because they’re offering a 35 percent discount compared to Uber, but once those discounts expire I don’t know that everyone is going to stick with Juno. I don’t know that passengers really care about how ethically these companies treat drivers.” Plus, Juno takes just a 10 percent commission, compared to Uber’s 25 percent. “I don’t know if that’s sustainable, indefinitely. Uber is losing two billion dollars a year right now,” Campbell says.
Waze is Google’s attempt to join the market. Its pilot program is taking place in San Francisco. Waze is more about carpooling than it’s about ridesharing, Campbell explains. In America, though, carpooling is nowhere near as prominent, so he’s not too optimistic about Waze’s future. Also, drivers make only 54 cents per mile, which Campbell does not think is sufficient to enable mass adoption. “I don’t know if people are that willing to go out of their way when there isn’t huge financial incentive to pick someone up.”
Wingz is a new service, available at many major U.S. and international airports, which mostly seeks to facilitate transportation to and from your flight. “I’m not going to pre-schedule my Friday night ride to the bar, but I know exactly when I need to be at the airport,” Campbell says. “Honestly, I prefer taking Wingz to and from the airport because it’s a lot more convenient.” It’s slightly more expensive, but many people are willing to pay a bit more for convenience while traveling.
See Jane Go
See Jane Go is only available in Orange County, California at the moment, but it’s a unique service. It’s “basically a female-only rideshare company,” Campbell says. “Traditionally, in taxis, like one percent or less of drivers are female. And with rideshare, it’s like 10 to 20 percent and it seems like it’s growing, too.” In an uberPOOL, or other rideshare services, women may be harassed by men. See Jane Go attempts to resolve that. “There are a lot of female drivers who would prefer female passengers. And then also vice versa: There are a lot of female passengers that are more comfortable with female drivers,” Campbell says.
Tesla plans on opening up its own rideshare network, the Tesla Network. Campbell says he’s not sure how many Model X or Model S owners will want strangers borrowing their car — even if it’s driving itself — but the more affordable Model 3 may change that.
Model 3 owners, for instance, could put their car on the network for a few days per month, and “very easily, probably, make the monthly payment,” Campbell says. “I think that’s a very futuristic or more of a utopian idea, but there is some real opportunity there. Not just with Tesla. I think that that idea might propagate more, to more of an economical car, for example.”
Uber Flying Car
If Uber manages to stay on top, it may manage to create a flying car. It’s released the white paper, so that’s something. Flying cars have long been a vision of the future, but Campbell doesn’t think the concept will be mere science fiction for long.
“One thing I am sure of is that traffic is getting worse and worse, and I think there are some studies going on right now that are looking at if Uber and Lyft are a big cause of that,” he says. “So I think, in that sense, the roads are getting more and more crowded. You had a whole lot open real estate above, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some type of small scale transportation, short-range transportation options in the future.”
Just don’t hold your breath.