Getting There From Here

Like many residents of New York City, I don’t own a car. If I want to get somewhere, I can walk, use public transportation, or take a taxi (in ascending order of cost). Depending on the time of day and the distance, any one of those can be faster than the other two.

NYC taxis became more convenient in recent years when they installed credit card machines. This made it much easier to pay without having to fumble for cash, and much more convenient to keep track of business expenses.

A few years ago, a client introduced me to Uber, and it was a game-changer for me. Uber’s web site describes them thus: “For riders, Uber is a convenient, inexpensive and safe taxi service. You can hire a private driver to pick you up and take you to your destination with the tap of a button on your phone – and they’ll be there in minutes. Not only is it an on-demand car service, but you can see exactly where the driver is when they’re coming to pick you up.” Uber is available in many cities in the U.S. and around the world.

One of the things I love about Uber is not having to deal with payment. My account has my credit card information in it, so when I get to my destination, I just exit the car and go on my way. My daughter goes to college in Washington, D.C. and she told me about a cool feature called “Fare Split”. If you are sharing an Uber with friends, you can easily split the final fare with them if they have Uber accounts.

Earlier this year, a colleague introduced me to an app called Way2Ride that makes paying for a taxi almost as convenient as Uber. After hailing a cab, you check the taxi TV screen for a 7-digit code. Enter the code into the app, and voilà! When you exit the cab at the end of the ride, payment happens automatically. The taxi receipt is e-mailed to you, which makes it great for tracking business expenses. I think the Way2Ride app can also be used to hail a cab – making it even more similar to Uber – but I have not yet tried that.

Another colleague recently introduced me to a ride-sharing application called Via. Another game-changer for me! Like Uber, you can summon a Via from your smartphone, but the big difference is the cost: $5 plus tax on weekdays, $5.95 plus tax on evenings and weekends. (My daughter tells me that Via is even cheaper in D.C.) You’ll be directed to a nearby corner for pickup, and you’ll be dropped within a block of your destination. Because it’s a ride-sharing service, you may find someone in the car, and the driver may stop to pick up or drop off others. Several times I’ve been the only rider in the car, and other times I’ve had some really interesting conversations with my fellow passengers!

It’s great to have all of these options available when I need to get around the city. You can download Uber, Way2Ride, and Via from the App Store. If you want to get some free rides (and give me some free rides, too), use these promotion codes: iu3hn for Uber, or sharon7a5 for Via.

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