By Elizabeth Riggs
Ridesharing is finally here! And that means in the Southtowns, too.
After a bill allowing ridesharing was approved as part of the state budget in April, ridesharing officially commenced in WNY on June 29. And lucky for the Southtowns, we’re not just talking about the city of Buffalo. The benefits spread to Ellicottville, too!
So, what are Uber or Lyft to begin with? They’re smartphone apps that provide on-demand car services that allow users to request private drivers for wherever they may feel like going. The apps use your location to find the nearest driver to you, who will pick you up and drive you to your destination.
Interested? It couldn’t be easier to get in on the fun! Just download the Uber or Lyft apps on your smartphone and follow the steps to create accounts. Provide your name, contact information, location and payment information, and when you’re ready to venture out, enter your desired destination.
Uber and Lyft both use GPS to figure out the rider’s destination, and locate a driver nearest you to pick you up.
Uber offers the opportunity to select a vehicle type, which in the Ellicottville area is limited to UberX or UberXL, which are vehicles with seating for four or six people. (In bigger areas, UberPool is also an option – allowing you to share a ride with strangers for a lower fare.)
Still a little hesitant to hop in a complete stranger’s vehicle? With both apps, riders can rest assured that they are in no danger. All drivers are required to pass comprehensive background and DMV checks.
The Lyft app also uses a driver rating service in which passengers rate their experience, and only the highest-rated drivers are allowed on the app, while Uber provides riders with a photo of their driver’s picture, vehicle details, and can track their arrival on a map as they wait for an added sense of safety and security.
Both apps also give estimated fare costs as soon as a destination is entered, so there are no surprises with pricing after arriving at your final destination. Further, riders can pay their fares electronically so there’s no need to worry about carrying cash. Uber and Lyft both accept credit card, Apple Pay, PayPal and other electronic payment options.
Wondering how much it would cost for a night out on the town? According to the Uber website, an estimated one-way fare from Springville to Ellicottville ranges from about $28-$35.
But for those who are just looking for a way to travel around, the cost would be much lower. And the apps could be game changers in places like Ellicottville—a town with a winery, brewery, distillery, and several fun bars and restaurants, but until recently, no taxi or cab services.
WNY’s ridesharing movement is also helping to lift the local economy and is making waves for those on the other side of the coin – the drivers. Signing up to become a driver for Uber or Lyft is a fantastic way to make a little extra spending money, or could even be a full-time job for those looking.
Uber and Lyft allows drivers to use their own cars, set their own schedules, and get paid instantly from the apps, as long as they comply with a few specific rules and regulations.
Drivers for both services are required to provide proof of driver’s license, proof of vehicle registration, proof of state vehicle inspection, and proof of personal vehicle insurance. Both apps also provide supplemental insurance benefits to drivers when they are working, at no additional cost to the driver.
Lastly, both apps understandably have a few requirements for future drivers. Uber drivers are required to be 21 years of age and have a vehicle model year 2001 or newer.
For added incentive to sign-up with either ridesharing app, Uber is also currently offering a sign-up bonus of $150, while Lyft is offering $200.
So, put your arm down – there’s no need to hail a cab any longer. Download these two apps today and enjoy your local communities in an entire different way. Maybe even make a new driver or rider friend along the way!
For more information on either ridesharing app, download them on your smartphone, or visit their websites: www.uber.com and www.lyft.com.