We see a lot of promising startups springing up everywhere. It’s rare to see one actually take off and become a part of our daily days though. Speaking of successful startups, I love going to San Francisco because everything cool and techie gets tested out there first. It’s just a stone’s throw away from most of the big tech and internet companies’ headquarters and the perfect urban setting to test out new apps and services and further develop them before launching them on a wider scale.
Here are 3 apps/services I used in SF and LA over the weekend, maybe it’ll help you save time and money and make some friends if you ever visit, or, better yet, maybe you can develop something like that back home. Some are still new and limited, others are now all over the US and different parts of the world. I hope you find them as useful as I did!
So, Uber is everywhere now. It’s in dozens of US cities and even places outside the US like London, Paris, Lyon Rome, Milan, Munich, Melbourne, Sydney, Toronto and Amsterdam. The idea is you sign up on your iOS or Android device and keep your credit card on file. If you need a taxi, all you do is tset your location and choose what type of car you want sent: plain-old taxi, an UberX car (hybrid, small usually), a black car (classier, spacier) or an SUV (for luggage and big groups I guess).
I tried it in SF and here are the screenshots I took to sort of walk you through the super-simple process. All you do is hop on, sit, get off and once you’re off, it’ll be charged automatically on the app for you to verify and rate.
Lyft is the really cool service I discovered thanks to Nick in San Francisco. One thing I hate in SF is how expensive getting around can be, with two separate metro systems and varying metro fares depending on how far you go (unlike the simple 2.5USD fixed rate in New York’s MTA to anywhere in the system, buses included). Also, the BART system closes at 2:00AM, cutting your night short. You can find Lyfts well past that, so even more reason to love it.
Lyft is basically a service that links people looking for a ride with folks that need one, but within a certain region (not cross-country trips). Drivers sign up and get a background check, and they get sent a huge pink, furry mustache they attach to the grills of their cars. Then, all you do is pinpoint your location and request a lyft. In minutes, the driver arrives and you hop in. Drivers are normal people and these are their private cars. Often, they’re young and hip and the conversations are very pleasant.
Once you complete the trip, since this is not technically a taxi and cannot charge fares, Lyft suggests a “donation” amount based on the distance and time. You can of course be an asshole and donate a dollar only, but then, you’ll get blacklisted and no one would wanna pick you up. You can also rate the driver so that you let others know if he or she was bad or unpleasant. Luckily, the 5 times we used Lyft, all our drivers were really sweet and accommodating.
This is epic and the fact it can function is a loophole I hope never gets closed. It’s also really good money on the side if you have a car and some free time. A perfect occasion to use Lyft would be on weekend nights, so you don’t drunk drive and get to go back and forth between the several happening parts of the city cheaply and in a fun way.
This is like Lyft but for longer distances and roadtrips. I went down from SF to LA for just 35$ with two very fun people in a very comfortable and scenic ride. Faster and cheaper than a train, more comfortable and faster than a bus and definitely cheaper than a flight. You punch in your route, check who’s offering seats, get in contact and if the driver OKs you, you call up each other, set a meeting point and then it’s roadtrip time!
I loved this because it’s cheap, but more importantly, fun. You get to meet strangers and by the end of the trip become friends. Of course, I did have a wee bit hard time getting a driver which isn’t afraid of a fat, bearded Arab guy, but, after a few attempts, it did work out and I ended up with two new friends in LA.