San Francisco-based Uber is by far the most popular ride-hailing service around. As of December, 2016, the company counted more than one million drivers across 66 countries and 545 cities worldwide among its ranks.
Uber’s pricing is fairly competitive on most days of the year, but things are a bit different on New Year’s Eve. The service’s variable surge pricing kicks in when demand hits a certain threshold, and those caught unawares are in for a nasty New Year’s surprise. If you’re unwilling to wait out peak hours between 12:30 and 2:30 a.m. and don’t mind sharing a ride with strangers, Uber provides a discounted carpooling option called uberPOOL to make the expense a little more palatable. If you’ve got a larger group, the app lets you split the fare among passengers regardless of whether you spring for Uber’s large sedan (uberXL), SUV (UberSUV), luxury car (Lux), and/or multiple mid-level cars.
Should you or one of the members of your party need it, Uber is one of the few on-demand services offering a disabled access option called UberASSIST. Select it in a supported city, and you’ll get a trained driver with a vehicle large enough to accommodate folding a scooter or folding wheelchair.
Lyft, the second-largest ride-hailing app by volume, offers transport in over 200 U.S. cities including New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Perhaps best known for the bright pink mustaches that once adorned the grills of its drivers’ cars, Lyft offers a range of vehicles to choose from, including average-sized Lyft autos and larger Lyft Plus cars.
Much like Uber, Lyft institutes demand-based pricing during the busiest hours. Unlike Uber, Lyft caps premiums at 400 percent. If that still sounds too rich for your blood, Lyft offers a carpooling service called Lyft Line, which lets you split fares between passengers if you opt for a larger private car.
Gett, the Israel-based ride-hailing app formerly known as GetTaxi, has a user base that pales in comparison to Uber and Lyft — it covers more than 100 cities globally, but only has a U.S. presence in New York City right now. Gett is markedly more reasonable when it comes to pricing, though: the service never charges a premium during busy hours.
Gett gets away with it by paying drivers a competitive hourly wage rather than a percentage of every fare, like Uber and Lyft. The company passes those savings on to riders. In Manhattan, Gett caps fares between Houston Street and 72nd street at $10 plus tax and tip.
Juno is a relative newcomer to the ride-sharing industry. The app was founded by Talmon Marco, a serial entrepreneur who made his fortune selling messaging app Viber for almost a billion dollars, and functions as a driving service that prioritizes fair compensation for drivers. The company takes a 10-percent commission out of fares — Uber, in comparison, takes around 30 percent of fares — and will eventually provide long-term drivers with restricted stock units (RSUs) so that they’ll own a piece of the company.
It doesn’t ask riders to make any sacrifices, either. Juno rides come in two flavors, Bliss and Lux, and an SUV option for larger groups. The app also estimates each tier’s fare, provides an ETA, and, when you’re ready to go, hails nearby cars. It’s a little barebones at the moment — it’s still in beta, after all — so it doesn’t have a carpooling component or other features you might find in more established apps. This is a good thing for prospective riders, however, given rides are 35-percent off during this soft-launch period.
Curb was briefly shuttered after an acquisition by Verifone Systems, the San Jose, California-based company that operates in-cab entertainment and payment systems. It’s another ride-sharing underdog, but one that’s expanding aggressively — the service taps a network of 50,000 taxis and hired cars across 65 U.S. cities.
Fundamentally, Curb works much in the same way as Uber and Lyft: Hail a driver, and you’ll be whisked away to your final destination. Uniquely, though, the service lets you schedule pickups ahead of time in some cities for a $2 fee. Know you’ll need a ride after a long night of ringing in the New Year? Set a time and location, so that a Curb driver will await your arrival. And it never charges surge pricing.
But Curb’s far from perfect. ComputerWorld’s Jake Widman reports that Curb’s driver availability is often spotty, an assertion which a cursory glance at Curb’s App Store reviews would seem to confirm. That’s apparently thanks to the service’s heavy reliance on cab drivers, who are likely to find closer passengers on the way to your pickup location. Curb now disincentivizes drivers from skipping jobs by kicking them out of the reservation system temporarily, but it remains to be seen just how highly drivers value Curb’s ride-hailing network over others.