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5 Ride-Sharing Alternatives to Try on Your Next Vacation

Liz Weiss

You frequently use ride-hailing apps on the go, whether to get to or from the airport, the train station or your hotel. But in recent months, with a growing number of car-sharing options cropping up in popular cities, there are plenty of safe, convenient and cost-effective alternatives to take for a spin -- all available with a few taps on your touch screen. Some are challenging ride-sharing giants like Uber and Lyft by offering timesaving opportunities and eliminating surge pricing, while others are working to elevate the car-hailing experience by integrating new features and adding enhanced safety measures. Still, they all share a common objective: Making getting from point A to B safe and efficient. To help direct you to a trusted and convenient car-sharing service on your next getaway, we caught up with experts at rising car service companies. Here's a primer on the latest on-demand car services popping up across the country.

Via

If you don't mind carpooling while traveling, consider tapping into Via, an on-demand car-sharing service currently available in Chicago and New York City that features a $5 flat fare (for prepaid pickups from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.) plus tax. You can easily add credit to your account; if you don't have money in your account at the time of pickup, the fare increases to $7 or $9.95 (for service 9 p.m. and midnight in NYC) plus tax when you pay per ride, and once your ride is completed, the fare will be charged to your credit card on file. "Our algorithm matches, in real time, multiple passengers headed the same way with a single large SUV or van. Passengers request rides through a mobile app, and within less than a second Via's systems select and, if necessary, reroute the van that best matches the passenger's route," says Gabby McCaig, director of communications at Via.

Depending on the vehicle and route, you may be sharing a ride with three to six other passengers heading in your direction for trips below 110th Street in Manhattan and destinations in Lincoln Park, River North, the West Loop, the Loop and Lakeview in Chicago. Apart from convenience, Via also prides itself on its transparent pricing.

"We often hear that Via's flat-fare structure provides peace of mind to travelers who may have been surprised by surge pricing in the past," McCaig says, pointing out the carpooling service is an especially appealing option while traveling because globe-trotters can easily connect with locals and get insider tips on can't-miss places, shops and restaurants. And in terms of safety, McCaig highlights the company's real-time support team, which offers live customer support for drivers and customers during operating hours.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 7 or later required)

[ See: Travel Expenses to Budget for Now.]

Kango

Unlike the other movers and shakers in the ride-sharing space, Kango, a San Francisco-based company, caters to traveling families. With rigorous background checks that verify each driver's record -- and includes a TrustLine screening, a database of caregivers that been vetted by the FBI and the California Department of Justice -- the company offers a "pool of amazing resources who are excellent drivers and also experienced caregivers," says Sara Schaer, CEO of Kango.

After downloading the app, parents can "indicate who the passengers are, pickup time, and date and any special instructions," Schaer adds. Similar to a sitter service, you can request a driver whose profile you've browsed on the platform, she adds. So, let's say you're planning a weeklong family vacation to the Bay Area and you include a couples-only dinner. Simply, plug in where you want your driver to take the kids, and you can rest assured that your child not only reaches her final destination (you'll receive a notification upon arrival), but that you'll also have a vetted baby sitter to look after her. To ensure availability, it's best to reserve your ride a week in advance, but the company also accommodates same-day requests, Schaer says. There is one caveat for frugal families: a higher price tag than car-sharing competitors. "We are a little bit more expensive due to our insurance cost," Schaer says. Fares start at $16 per ride, and sitter pricing ranges from $15 to $20 per hour. Still, when you factor in the safety screening process, and the chance to avoid lugging around (or paying extra fees) for equipment like booster seats, Kango is a competitive ride option, Schaer adds.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 7 or later required)

Gett

When it comes to black car services in Manhattan, it's tough to beat Gett, which offers flat, surge-free rates anywhere south of 110th Street. According to Gett spokesman Nathan Roth, the meter rates never climb, even during periods of high demand, inclement weather or peak traffic times. "Gett is completely transparent about pricing," Roth says. After downloading the app, you can pick from four categories: Gett Deal, which includes transportation anywhere below 110th Street for $10; Gett Standard, which offers rates starting at $6; Gett Premium to reserve a high-end sedan starting at $10; and Gett SUV for a luxury SUV starting at $18. Apart from Gett's value-proposition, Roth says Gett makes safety a priority by ensuring that "every Gett driver is fully trained, licensed and insured," he adds, highlighting that the company features a round-the-clock support line for drivers and passengers. Best of all, you can reserve your ride up to two weeks in advance. "If you have an early morning flight, you no longer have to scramble to order an Uber as you head out the door!" he adds.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 7 or later required)

[See: Ways to Save on Trips to 10 Popular Destinations in 2016.]

Arro

"We want to be just another on-demand ride app, and the experience for consumers whether they're consumers or otherwise should be the same," says Mike Epley, founder of Arro, a car-service app currently available in Boston, Chicago and New York. "Where we're different is that the service that we're providing is only based on professional taxis and limousines," he explains. In other words, all drivers are licensed, background-checked and knowledgeable, and they can easily get you where you need to go by taking the most efficient and direct route.

Thanks to Arro's partnership with Creative Mobile Technologies, which provides taxis with integrated, cross-platform technology, you can flag a yellow taxi cab with Arro's app, making the ride-hailing process a cinch. "Because taxis are out on the road all the time, they're fairly ubiquitous," Epley explains, and ultimately, service tends to be faster than non-fleet drivers. Plus, pricing is transparent. All fares are regulated by the current taxi fare in each respective city market, and the app's savvy fare estimator allows you to calculate the cost or your trip simply by punching in your final destination and preferred tip percentage. And thanks to the app's direct connection with yellow taxis, it's easy to hail a car in a few swipes on your smartphone and to pay for service on your phone once the journey is complete, Epsley adds.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 7 or later required)

[See: 6 Secrets for Saving on Travel in 2016.]

Bandwagon

Regardless of whether you're flying into Brooklyn's LaGuardia Airport or John F. Kennedy International Airport, or simply seeking a lift after attending a crowded conference, turning to Bandwagon's taxi-sharing app can help you save waiting time by joining other travelers to share a ride. Plus, the service can help you scale back costs and CO 2 emissions.
"Our passengers get to skip to the front of taxi lines for sharing -- think of it like an HOV lane for sharing passengers," says David Mahfouda, CEO at Bandwagon. According the to the app's site, users can cut their fare by 40 percent at terminals B, C and D during the popular travel season and reach their final destination painlessly. Plus, the company also has plans to expand service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York as well as Penn Station, giving commuters and travelers more options to split the fare and keep their wallets happy. Here's how it works: After downloading the app, you can create a new account and log in with email or Facebook, enter your destination and the app will pair you with travelers headed in your direction. When the ride ends, you can simply take care of the bill (a $5 or $6 fee, which varies according to airport, plus the taxi fare) with fellow riders using the app.

"The best things about using Bandwagon are getting a fast, reliable ride -- while getting the peace of mind of riding with licensed yellow cabdrivers. Sharing yellow cabs improves life for everyone involved: lower fares for riders, more business for drivers and less traffic and congestion for all of us," Mahfouda says.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone (iOS 7 or later required)



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