Lyft and Uber: good resources for one-car families - 510 Families
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Lyft and Uber: good resources for one-car families

Though Uber has been driving tech-savvy folks around San Francisco, New York and Boston for a while now, I just tried it myself last month in the East Bay. I used Lyft as well, and in both cases, the drivers told me that Berkeley is a new market and they weren’t picking up as many fares as they had hoped. This led me to conclude that you might not know about these super services.

I have a car, and so does my husband, which means we won’t become frequent customers of any car service — including a third East Bay player, Sidecar. However, there are a few scenarios that made me think sharing information about these guys is relevant for local families.

When I was headed to downtown Berkeley for an event and planned to have a few drinks, I delighted in being picked up by a (shockingly clean) car and delivered to the door of my destination. No driving around looking for a parking space or paying for a spot in a garage and then walking three blocks in heels.

The Lyft app allowed me to enter my destination, provided me a fare estimate, and when the driver arrived, he knew exactly where to take me. Upon arrival, no fumbling with payment. All I had to do was approve the fare on my phone; the credit card I had added to my account when I set it up that morning was charged. The driver and I agreed to give each other five stars. Wanna try Lyft? Use my Lyft invitation link and get your first ride free, up to $25.

My writing partner Heather is a one-minivan family with three kids. They make good use of BART, bicycles, and carpooling, but I could imagine quite a few scenarios in which use of these car services would be helpful to those who have one car.
  • You need to go to the airport and leave your partner the car at home
  • You need to meet up with partner and kids later and they will have the car
  • You got a babysitter for the evening and you would like to drink on your night out

I love you Oakland, but I don’t always want to walk back to my car in the dark to where I have parked. Am I right, single moms?

A few weeks later, my husband was out of town, and I used Uber to meet friends out for the evening, wanting to be dropped off right at the door of the restaurant. Upon launching the app, you can choose from different levels of service, which I don’t totally understand, but if you only like to ride in an SUV, feel free to order one up. I rode in a brand-new Jetta, and like the Lyft car ride I used, it was impeccably clean and the driver was friendly. If you’d like to try Uber, use this code for a $20 Uber credit: wlbqh
Drivers are background checked by both companies. Riders rate them, and they must maintain a very high rating to continue to do the work. The app is also tracking where all drivers are, so you can see how far away the closest car is in minutes, when your ride is approaching in real-time on a map, who the driver will be, and what kind of car they are in.
A few more scenarios in which you might like to be chauffeured:

  • Going somewhere where parking is time-consuming and costly, ie Nob Hill. (Take BART to SF and then summon a car if no taxi is found.)
  • You are willing to walk to your destination, but will want a ride home. Alternatively, your babysitter arrived via bus but you would like to provide her a ride home.
  • Or maybe you just ran 7 miles in an area you’re not familiar with, but did not end up where you had hoped because the icon on your running app that you thought was your starting point actually represented a water source which looks like a tear drop but also looks like a “start” icon and that’s confusing, especially when you’re dripping with sweat and you need to be rescued. Just me?

Install a ride service app and set up your account so that you are ready to use it when the need arises.

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2 thoughts on “Lyft and Uber: good resources for one-car families”

  1. This single mom says: ride services could be a great alternative to pulling my kid out of bed in order to drive the babysitter home. Thank you!

  2. it would be a great idea to inform people that uber will not accept your netspend or walmart visa debit card. even though it is called a prepaid card, many of us use it much like a bank account because we get our paychecks and/or other income such as tax returns, ssi, unemployment etc direct deposited on to them and they are very much like a bank account in that way. but uber wont tell you that when you add your card as a form of payment to your profile. it wasnt until i was requesting my ride that i was told my card was deemed invalid. i ended up seriously inconveniencing people as i was 2 hours late where i needed to be. most things requiring use of a debit or credit card will tell u in their policies up front whether or not debit cards are accepted and most of them will run your card when you add them to your account to be sure it has sufficient funds, isnt stolen, isnt expired etc etc. not uber. just want to get this info out there so others dont have to find out the hard way like i did.

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