What Seniors Need to Know About Ride Sharing12 minute read

12 minute read

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Updated for December, 2018

In this fast-paced world, new developments in technology have revolutionized the way we think about industries that we might have never previously thought needed improvement. You may have looked out of your window and noticed that there are less taxi cabs on roads. You might have also noticed the increase of cars donning the names of ride sharing programs such as Uber, Lyft, Hitch, ZimRide, RideScout and more.

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What all of these services have in common is that they allow everyday people to use their private vehicles to drive customers to their destinations for money. The transactions between drivers and riders are handled through an electronic app, which makes interactions and payment particularly easy, even when they are on short notice.

For seniors, a comfortable grasp on ride sharing can unlock your ability to travel short distances without getting behind the wheel on your own or depending on friends and family members to assist you in transportation. With a healthy knowledge of the way each ride sharing service works, you can be on your way to embarking out on brave, new journeys, or the convenience of a simpler, cost effective way to run errands.

While there are many ride sharing options, market share data reports that the two largest entities in the industry remain Uber and Lyft. Both services are available in an estimated 300 cities throughout the U.S.

In May 2018, eMarketer projected 48 million U.S. adults would use Uber, at least once. In the case of Lyft, a smaller, growing company, researchers believed around 30 million U.S. adults would utilize the ride share program by the year’s end.

Depending on the distance you’re traveling and the amount of traffic, your ride may vary in price.

You can hire a ridesharing service as needed

Now that you’re signed up, you can begin using your preferred ride share program at a moment’s notice. The menu within each app will ask you where you would like to go. Depending on the distance you’re traveling and the amount of traffic, your ride may vary in price.

Once a driver is requested, Uber or Lyft, will assign a driver that will be on their way to come pick you up.

You’ll be provided with their name, as well as the color, make and model of the vehicle they are driving. While you wait, you can watch a GPS of your immediate area which will share with you how close your driver is to arriving at your pick-up location.

When your Uber or Lyft is close to arrival, it is best to be outside, near the road, in a safe location where it is easy for the driver to identify you as their customer. In the event that the driver experiences complications in finding you, they will often give you a call in order to locate you.

When you arrive at your destination, there is no need to exchange any money with the driver, as you would in a traditional taxi service. All transactions, including tips, are handled through the app.

It can be less stressful than driving on your own

Senior Woman Driving Stress

Limited mobility can be a common narrative for seniors. You’ve got places to go, but the inability to drive yourself, and you don’t want to rely on a loved one to volunteer their time to get you there.

Your family cares about you and wants you to continue to get out into the community around you.

In the event that you’re no longer comfortable behind the wheel of a motor vehicle or simply could use your time as a passenger to relax and take a breather during your daily routine, a ride sharing service can give you back the power and agency you may have been missing.

Because each service is electronic, someone you trust, such as a family member or friend, can request a ride on your behalf.

You can enjoy the technological advantage

If the undertaking of requesting an Uber or Lyft from a smartphone or tablet is uncomfortable for you, you can request rides from both apps by using your web browser on a laptop or desktop.

To get started, visit Uber.com or Lyft.com.

Additionally, because each service is electronic, someone you trust, such as a family member or friend, can request a ride on your behalf. All they need is the proper app and your location, and an Uber or Lyft driver can be on their way to pick you up at your convenience.

There are even third-party services, such as Arrive, RideWith24, and GoGoGrandparent aimed specifically at helping citizens who aren’t as comfortable with phones and other tech request rides on Uber and Lyft without signing up directly to either service.

You can also schedule a ride up to 30 days in advance with Uber or seven days in advance with Lyft by using each app’s options.

Costs

While a ride share program is typically not as cost effective as public transportation, purchasing a ride on Uber or Lyft can be relatively inexpensive. During normal service hours, ride sharing can also be pretty cheap in comparison to the price of taxi fares.

Naturally, longer distances often warrant higher costs when using a ride share service, but that’s not the only factor that affects the price of your ride.

Each ride’s cost is determined upon four primary factors:

  • Base Charge – Even if you decide to travel an extremely short distance, Uber and Lyft incentivizes drivers to pick you up with a base charge. No matter what you’ll have to pay, at least, the amount of the base charge each time you enter an Uber or Lyft. This fee varies from city to city.
  • Cost per mile – Uber and Lyft both calculate how many miles you’ve ridden in a driver’s vehicle.
  • Cost per minute – Uber and Lyft both calculate how many minutes you’ve ridden in a driver’s vehicle.
  • Service Fee – Both services add operating costs to your fare which go to Uber or Lyft, respectfully, instead of the driver.

Other fees include toll, tunnel and bridge fees, which are added to your bill at the end of your trip.

During times when the demand for drivers causes Uber or Lyft to become inundated with requests for rides, Uber’s Surge and Lyft’s Prime Time pricing will be implemented, thus increasing the cost.

Also key to consider for the pricing of your trip are Uber’s Surge and Lyft’s Prime Time pricing. During times when the demand for drivers causes Uber or Lyft to become inundated with requests for rides, either service may implement a multiplier, dramatically increasing the cost per ride. This is important to remember, not only for peak times, such as rush hour traffic, but holidays and special events in your community that would cause an abnormal flow of traffic or an increased usage of ride sharing apps. Due to this variable, there are instances in which ride share prices can skyrocket to rates higher than a traditional taxi, which wouldn’t typically factor higher demand into fares.

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Sharing an Uber or Lyft with someone else, such as a friend, family member or a group of loved ones who also have the appropriate app, gives you the ability to split the fees associated with each ride. In the app, you will be prompted to add passengers onto your ride, allowing your party members to accept the charges associated with splitting the fare.

Vehicle Options

Uber and Lyft offer a host of different options when it comes to types of vehicles you can request during your ride share experience. Prices vary according to the option you select, and some options may not be available in your immediate area. Additionally, up-front prices might not be available for every option.

Familiarizing yourself with each vehicle option can help you tailor your preferences, as well as your expectations once your Uber or Lyft arrives.

With Uber, your most common option is the UberX, which is a standard vehicle that can hold up to four passengers inside. Similarly, you can call an UberPOOL, which requests a car that will combine your ride with other passengers in the area, creating an impromptu carpool. This option is often the cheapest for consumers, as you share the cost of your ride with the other Uber customers. On average an UberPOOL ride is an estimated 45-50% cheaper than UberX.

Uber and Lyft offer a host of different options when it comes to types of vehicles you can request during your ride share experience.

UberSelect, UberBlack and UberLUX, as their names suggest, are higher-end options that include limosine-like services, luxury vehicles and sports cars, if you’re looking for a fancier way to ride.

For larger groups, consider an UberXL, which will request vehicles of a larger size to accommodate your needs. Uber even offers a high-end version of this option called UberSUV.

In the world of Lyft, you can request a standard Lyft or Shared Lyft, if you’d like to pool with other riders.

Luxury options include Lyft Lux and Lyft Lux Black. Larger groups can request a Lyft XL or Lyft Black XL.

Both Uber and Lyft offer classes of vehicles aimed at accommodating customers who may require accessibility considerations.

Uber Assist, when available, is an option that will enable a driver trained to aid customers with folding wheelchairs, walkers and collapsible scooters. The program is not compatible for customers who require a ramp or lift in order to enter a vehicle, however.

Lyft’s accessibility options require customers to toggle on “Access Mode” in their app settings. When enabled, it will allow the app to search for drivers who can accommodate wheelchairs in their vehicle.

Uber and Lyft offer a rating system in their app, which allows you to give feedback on your individual driver and their service after each ride.

Ride shares offer a slightly different service from traditional taxis

Though ride sharing can be convenient, it is important to remember that companies such as Uber and Lyft may provide a similar service to the taxi cabs that have lined the streets of our cities for years, their standards and operations are completely different.

In most cities, taxi companies are subject to an amount of scrutiny that ensures customers know just what to expect with each ride. Often, you can depend on a safe, reliable trip without many surprises. While Uber and Lyft have gone to great lengths to ease consumer doubt with their new technologies, the fact remains that each driver is a private citizen, and every experience is, by and large, unique.

Think of it the same way you might think of the difference between a trusted department store and a really second-hand sale. You can find terrific items at both. But you know going into each experience that customer service may vary. Being that Uber and Lyft operate the app, but allow private citizens to act as independent contractors using their interface, there are a wide array of variables that can enhance your user experience or alter it negatively.

For that reason, Uber and Lyft offer a rating system in their app, which allows you to give feedback on your individual driver and their service after each ride. This feedback helps them improve your experience. You can also report any issues to Uber or Lyft within the app.

Additionally, both Uber and Lyft allow you to share your ETA and trip status with trusted family and friends, to ensure you’re accounted for while on the road. This feature enables designated members in your contacts to view your real-time location, vehicle info, destination and driver’s name while you’re en route.