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Ridesharing services

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Ridesharing services

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Ridesharing services are companies that match drivers of private vehicles to those seeking local taxicab-like transportation.

Ridesharing services are available mostly in large cities in many countries. Some of the biggest names in the industry are Uber, which exists in 58 countries and whose name is almost synonymous with ridesharing services, and Lyft, which covers many American cities.

Ridesharing services have been seen by some as controversial for various reasons. The legality has been brought into question, even as these services continue to operate, with laws varying by location. Taxicab companies have complained about the competition. There has also been concern about the safety of the drivers, who many feel have not been vetted sufficiently.

How to use a ridesharing service[edit]

In order to use a ridesharing service, the use of a smartphone is required. You must have smartphone access in the city where you happen to be. If you are in a foreign country, this may require a data connection.

You must create an account. This requires the input of a credit or debit card number to which all your rides will be billed. You must be sure at all times you are depending on this service that you have available funds or credit in the account.

Vehicle size and class[edit]

Many ridesharing companies offer a choice of different sizes and classes of vehicle. The base level usually offers a sedan or a vehicle with a similar number of seats, though on occasion, a larger vehicle may be dispatched at no extra charge. Larger vehicles come at a higher cost and may be able to accommodate more passengers or luggage.

Fares[edit]

Fares are often comparable to those of taxicabs and are usually a combination of a base fare, time, distance traveled, and other factors. They could be more or less, depending on numerous factors.

Surge pricing[edit]

Major ridesharing companies often raise the price when the demand for services exceeds the number of drivers in the area actively on duty. Surged prices can sometimes be several times as high. During major holidays, when services are most in demand, the price can be surged more than 10 times higher than normal. Most companies will let you know the price has surged before you accept the ride.

Damage fees[edit]

Major ridesharing companies charge damage fees for creating extreme messes in the driver's vehicle. This includes, but is not limited to, spills, mud, and vomit. These fees can sometimes be several hundred dollars and cover the fee the driver must pay for a cleanup and the time the driver spends not earning an income while the vehicle is being cleaned.

Tipping[edit]

Many ridesharing companies claim that tipping is not necessary. However, as the commission that is promised to them may not sufficiently cover much of the hidden costs to the service, such as fuel, tolls, wear-and-tear on their vehicles, vehicle cleaning, and beyond, it may be courteous to offer a sufficient tip comparable to the customary amount given for a taxicab ride.

Lyft allows users to add a tip following a ride that will be added to the bill.

Star rating and comments[edit]

Major ridesharing companies have a system allowing passengers to rate drivers following the ride. Ratings typically range from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 stars being for the best possible ride and 1 being the worst. Whenever an assignment is made, the average star rating is provided, rounded to the nearest tenth (e.g 4.8). While each passenger has their own personal reasons behind a high or low rating, drivers who receive lower average ratings are less likely to receive assignments or insurance coverage.

Passengers also have the ability to leave comments, which may be positive or negative, regarding their experience with the driver.

Safety[edit]

Safety of drivers[edit]

One of the concerns of using ridesharing services has been the safety of the drivers. Incidents of drivers harming passengers or passengers have been reported, though are rare. While critics say it is insufficient, drivers are vetted to a degree for their driving and criminal histories.

If you feel a driver is unsafe, try to exit the vehicle whenever you safely can to a well-lit, populated area.

Do not accept a ride from anyone whose vehicle does not match the description of the one given. There are imposters who will pick up someone they believe is waiting for a ride and pretend to be that ride.

Driving for a ridesharing service[edit]

The mobile apps for ridesharing services also encourage users to become drivers. If you own a vehicle that qualifies (usually must be 4-door and less than 10 years old), you may be able to earn some extra money or even make driving for a ridesharing service your full time job.

If you choose to drive, be aware of the laws where you live that vary by location. Many ridesharing services are not following the laws where they are operating and a driver who is caught providing this service could face legal consequences. Also be sure you have insurance to cover this usage for your own vehicle and liability to others as the service you have contracted with may or may not provide this and your regular policy for your vehicle may not cover you when you are using the vehicle to provide a ridesharing service.