Lyft Archives | Bellhop App

Flash Guide to New York City Rideshare Price Changes

So what the hell happened?

1) A new surcharge for all journeys below 96th Street came into effect this week.

2) Separately both Uber and Lyft increased their pricing this week.

How much will this cost me?

In most cases an extra $3-4 per journey in total. For the average New Yorker that’s an increase in over $400 annually.

For journeys below 96th Street the surcharge works out at:
An extra $2.50 for every Taxi ride.
An extra $2.75 for every rideshare (or $.75 per carpool ride)

The exact Uber and Lyft rate increases have not yet been published but we expect the average trip to cost at least an additional $1-$2 on top of the surcharge.

What did we do to deserve this?

The surcharge money goes to the MTA and is designed to help pay for subway and other essential infrastructure improvements (some of which are blamed on rideshares).

The increase in Uber and Lyft rates is a direct response to the new legislation mandating a minimum earnings for drivers called ‘Driver Earnings Rule’, which mandates new per-mile and per-minute rates.

How much of my ride is now tax?

Good question – here’s an excerpt from Uber’s recent blog post:

“Currently, city and state governments require Uber to collect the following from the rider:

 

  • 8.875% Sales Tax
  • 2.5% surcharge for the NY State Black Car Fund
  • As of February 2019: A NYS Congestion Surcharge of $2.75 (or $0.75 when it’s a carpool ride) on rides in Manhattan below 96th St

    For the average New York City UberX ride (a $22 fare), riders can expect that over 20% of what they pay will go toward government-mandated taxes and fees.”

The Fear of Autonomous Mobility

We’ve seen them in the movies for over 100 years – flying cars, flying saucers, autonomous vehicles of every shape and size and of course the stubborn HAL refusing to close those damn pod bay doors in 2001. All of these depicted various imagined versions of a future computerized transportation system. And we loved them. We couldn’t wait to live in that cool future world.

But wait. Now that future world is almost here and we find ourselves in this unique episode of the human race, it’s not quite as popular as we’d imagined. Science fiction is becoming science fact and not everyone is super happy about it. In fact there is a growing trend against increasing autonomous mobility.

The first autonomous cars have already hit the streets, flying cars are inching ever closer (in fact Uber predicts 4 years before you call one with your app), and the whole way we get from A to B is quickly evolving with new shared mobility options launching every day from electric scooters to crowdfunding bus rides, subscription car services and every possible nuance inbetween.

With this change in mass mobility comes increasing opposition, something technology is not used to. When Steve Jobs launched the iphone there weren’t riots to make people go back to flip phones. When DVD killed VHS and before that Betamax, no one cared. It made sense in everyone’s mind. It was clear progression. That’s where autonomous mobility has its challenges. Not everyone is convinced it is progression and that’s slowing it down.

Take Waymo – the autonomous Google owned rideshare which has tested millions of miles and will officially launch later this year. Users will be able to hail a ride, just like Uber and Lyft now, but the car will be driverless. Before these cars are even launched though, during tests they have been attached with rocks, knives and guns. One local in Arizona simply stood in front of one of the cars to stop it passing. Others have tried to run them off the road or simply scream at them. There is a real and genuine negativity with regards to the idea of a car driving itself.

For some, America stands for muscle car, for the very idea of driving down the open road seeking the ‘pursuit of happiness’. It’s about freedom, the wind in your hair, the ability to go anywhere, do anything. Having a robot do that? It’s, well, un-American almost.

For others it’s a fear of technology taking over. It’s that fear of science fiction becoming science fact and once the cars drive themselves before we know it Arnold Schwarzenegger will have to come back from the future to save us from the robot uprising. Connected cars also take us one step closer to 1984 with big brother watching your every move, every turn, knowing every moment where you are in your computerized tin on wheels. And with tech comes hacking – nearly every one of us has been the victim of at least one hack, most of us dozens. Many fear robot cars will be just as vulnerable.

Then there is the fear of employment – researchers say some eight million plus people globally could be displaced by autonomous taxis. Many Lyft and Uber drivers are already working a second or third job as a driver so what options does that leave them? The on-demand economy has created a job that most people can easily do – as long as you can drive and follow on screen directions. So what options are left if cars start to drive themselves? No doubt new economies will open up but there could be an ugly transition.

Safety is yet another fear. Sure it sounds safer and robots are cold unemotional and aren’t checking their Facebook feed while they drive, so in theory they should be much safer drivers. But it’s going to be a long long time before the roads are all autonomous. And in the interim robots have to outsmart crazy drivers, drunk drivers, mad drivers. And it’s difficult to program against crazy, drunk and mad. In fact when Bellhop launched its groundbreaking rideshare survey a few months ago in conjunction with RideGuru, we found there was significant pushback to having driverless cars. From over 1000 respondents, over 64% said they would not feel safe without a driver. And the same figure wanted a choice between a driver and driverless car when booking a ride.

Of course, there are potentially huge advantages of autonomy – fewer accidents (long term), increased productivity (imagine being able to work for your hour car commute every day), increased socialisation (you can actually focus more on your passengers (or your phone!), plus of course optimal routes, lower emissions, especially as more and more cars become electric. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Better city planning with more data, economies of scale, less car ownership and more shared car ownership. Changing the way we move together impacts so many areas of professional and personal life.

Cars are just the beginning though. Uber is heavily investing in flying cars and just this week announced it is looking at autonomous bikes and scooters. Imagine seeing a bike just cycling itself to go and be charged or to going to where a rider wants to be picked up. Social media widely captioned this ‘for some reason’ as there were many heads scratched with comments like ‘it’s unclear why you would need a self driving scooter’. Perhaps this is one step too far when we’re not even comfortable with step one?

Back in 1982 the original Blade Runner predicted flying taxis, speaking computers, digital billboards and the miserable effects of global warming. Of course it all looked very cool back then. But looks can be deceiving. It seems like most of those predictions actually came true apart from flying taxis. Perhaps if those who are against an autonomous future made as much fuss about the effects of global warming, we’d have sunnier skies eclipsed by flying cars.

One thing is for sure though, the future will come. The way we move is changing forever. And we’ll all have a lot more choices about how we travel. Some may not say for the better though. Perhaps we’ll all get super fat as we sit on bikes that pedal themselves and sit in cars that drive themselves while we eat pizza. Personally, I just hope whatever I travel in has a good stereo.

Ride Hailing & Ride Sharing: Everything You Need to Know

Let’s start with a brief history of ride-hailing aka ride sharing. Ride-hailing is basically a modern day term for hailing a cab, albeit it via a phone or computer. Taxis as a form of transport have been around since the 17th century when horse drawn carriages would take members of the high society in England and France from their palaces to their fancy balls and back. The first documented public hackney coach service for hire was in London in 1605. So ride-hailing isn’t really anything new at all. It’s just the way you hail.

Fast forward a few hundred years and the yellow taxis became the color and brand associated with this mode of transport over the last century. Black cars and limousines also came onto the scene to provide higher end modes of taxi services. But with the development and mass adoption of smartphone technology a new transportation era has dawned.

In 2010 Uber first launched their ride-hailing business aimed at making it easier to find a limousine. Two years later Lyft started a business aimed at hitchhikers. And so began what has become a multi-billion dollar market with dozens of companies around the world now offering what are called ride-hailing services.

At first the established taxis fought hard (and around the world many still are) to stop this new trend but many taxi companies now offer the same ride-hailing technology to enable their customers and drivers to deliver a similar experience. You may have heard this referred to as the ride-hailing revolution and it is true in many senses of the word – mass adoption, social engagement, protests over change and even clashes as ride-hailing has disrupted a four hundred year old industry.

To show you how quickly things have changed, 15% of Americans have already used a ride-hailing service in just seven years since it began.

So what are the ride-hailing basics?

Let’s start with a broad definition of ride-sharing. Many people get confused between the difference of ride-sharing and ride-hailing. Well, to be honest there isn’t much of one! Uber and Lyft will refer to themselves as both ride-sharing and ride-hailing companies. Ride-sharing is basically the over-arching term that includes all of the below. Ride-sharing can be just you selecting a car via your smartphone, or can include you deciding to ride-pool (more on that later) with another person. So ride-sharing is basically any and all ways of you getting from A-B!

Ride-hailing is a little more specific but still encompasses a range of companies and services, including taxis, car services and ride-hailing specific services. The concept of ride-hailing is that a customer hires a driver to take them exactly where they need to go, just as you would by hailing a taxi from the street, calling up a car service on the phone, or virtually hailing a car and driver from an app. Think of ride-hailing as putting your virtual arm out for a taxi. Your virtual arm is your smartphone or computer, the taxi is a taxi or any car that is set up in the system and ride-hailing technology gives the consumer many more benefits. In some places you really can ride-hail a horse for example.

So why is ride-hailing so great?

Let’s start from the passenger experience. Although you can use your computer or even home audio device (like Amazon’s Echo) to order these services, over 90% do so via a smartphone. You enter your pick-up point and destination and the ride-hailing company will show you on a map where available cars are, what the pickup ETA is and a rough estimate of the cost of the trip. Many will give you a choice of car type/size with prices varying. None of that existed when you put your hand out on the street to take a taxi. It gives you, the consumer, far more flexibility as you can see when your pick up will arrive, you know how much you’re likely to spend and even what type of car you will get.

Once you are in the car, you can follow the route via the ride-hailing app to make sure the driver is taking you via the optimal route. If you got a car for a friend and want to make sure they get to their destination you can track them via your phone too. I’ve done that many times when putting my mother in the car to the airport for example.

Tipping is another big area where many people prefer to use ride-hailing apps. Whereas for taxis riders would often have to stress about how much to tip then and there, many ride hailing apps do not require any tipping or if they do have tipping options, most have the ability after the ride is over so you can decide if and how much to tip from the comfort of your destination.

Driver ratings is yet another great feature of ride-hailing. You can share your experiences and rate the good the bad and the ugly, making ride-hailing safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

The other unique thing about ride-hailing is the payment is usually seamless. You will have already set up payment options with the ride-hailing company and so when you arrive you simply get out and get on with your life. No fumbling for cash, or trying to swipe credit cards, or worse still, realizing you left your wallet at home! With ride-hailing you can travel all over the country without ever needing a wallet.

There is no doubt ride-hailing has made transportation easier. It’s global growth to become a $11billion market so quickly is testament to that fact.

Ride Hailing Driver Benefits

From the driver point of view – many ride-hailing companies can offer their drivers a lot of flexibility. Most of the time, unlike traditional yellow taxis, the drivers supply their own cars. Some ride-hailing companies have started offering their drivers subsidized or help with purchasing a vehicle too. Once a driver has been accepted and set up with the company’s app, the driver can pick which hours he or she works. You will often find a ride-hailing driver has another job or drives for a few hours each week for extra money. I’ve met IT recruitment consultants, lawyers and farmers all of whom also drive ride-hailing cars on the side. For many it’s a great way of being social and meeting new people.

For drivers there is also the idea of safety and better protection. They know who they are picking up, can chose whether to not to take a certain ride (a traditional taxis would have no idea where you are going when you hail it on the street) and drivers can rate the customer just like the customer can rate the driver.

So what is Ride-Pooling then?

Hot off the tails of ride-sharing, came the concept of ride-pooling. The idea first developed in 2014. Ride pooling is basically another subset of ride-sharing. Think about it as sharing your journey with another passenger. Some “ride-sharing purists” will even argue that ride pooling is more of a social mission helping mobility, environmental protection and cost savings. Most ride-pooling services are localized, i.e. if you’re travelling a few miles, you can share the cost with someone else who happens to be en route and going the same direction. But there are other ride-pooling services that help connect users going longer distances – think of the old analogy of a hitchhiker looking for a ride.

Where is ride-hailing taking us?

At the end of the day the fundamentals of getting a taxi service to take you somewhere or hitch a ride with someone have not changed. It’s the the clever utilization of technology and the fact nearly everyone has a smart phone now that has enabled this concept to spread so quickly. It has become easier, safer and far more efficient for many people to use these services than drive themselves. Certainly the landscape has changed more in the last seven years than it has in the last six hundred. But change is inevitable and more fundamental change is just around the corner. In New York City, Uber and Lyft are set to have more rides combined than traditional taxis and by 2018 combined these will account for over one million rides EVERY DAY. Hundreds of thousands of ride-hailing apps are downloaded each day too with no sign of slowing down.

The Power of Bellhop

Amid this flurry of new ride-hailing apps consumers face a mounting challenge of both staying up to date with the latest options and also how to compare which ones are actually the best.

And that’s where Bellhop comes in. Bellhop consolidates the major ride-hailing apps into one. So you no longer need dozens of apps on your phone to get the optimal ride. Bellhop enables you to compare by cost, pick up time and other variables to get the ride that suits you. It’s a very simple concept but especially in countries or even states that have localized ride-hailing apps, Bellhop makes your travel life so much easier. There is no need to download multiple apps and sign up for each with your credit card. It’s about one seamless process to make your life easier and to give you the power of choice. During Bellhop’s Beta testing, our users showed on average 20% savings per ride.

With so many companies now investing in self driving technologies, it won’t be long before you can book a driverless car to take you to your destination. There are many arguments for and against that but there is no doubt it will happen. One thing is for sure though – the conversation may not be as entertaining.