Editor’s Note: We updated this article on October 21, 2016. The ride-hailing app world is a fast moving one, and we had some changes to report.
Navigating New York City has become a different beast in recent years—with the advent of Citibikes and Uber, all of a sudden options for getting from point A to point B have multiplied, especially in the outer boroughs.
And then, of course, Uber competitors have cropped up, and the taxi industry finally got the hint that it was time to innovate, meaning that now there are more apps to choose from than ever. Here’s our guide to the best apps for getting around the Big Apple…
This app hails yellow taxis (or the newer green ones), which then show up at your location and wait up to four minutes for you to get in. Until recently, this was my app of choice, far more reliable than Uber and there’s none of the dreaded surge pricing nonsense, which means that when it’s raining during rush hour, you won’t spend your monthly rent getting to your destination. One driver told me that drivers get charged $10 for canceling a ride once they’ve accepted it, which would explain the reliability. These positives all still apply, however the app has recently started charging a $1.95 “service fee” on each fare, making shorter trips far less cost effective.
Juno is a competitor to Uber and Lyft with a mandate to treat its drivers better than the aforementioned. So far, the Juno drivers I’ve spoken with are thrilled with the company. (You can read about its business philosophy in depth in this New Yorker article.) And from the passenger’s perspective? Juno is consistently cheaper than both Uber and Lyft–I frequently take a long ride that runs in the $30 range with Juno. That same ride with Uber typically costs $50-ish. For now, Juno has displaced Way2Ride as my number one choice.
Sure, Uber is the one that started it all, but it’s also the one known for its lack of regard for both customers and its drivers. In my experience, an Uber ride more often than not costs more than a cab covering the same route, and it always seems like when you need one the most, prices are surging out of control. Also, Uber drivers can cancel rides at will, while riders can get charged for doing so. It’s been months since I’ve chosen Uber over Way2Ride or Juno, and I don’t plan on going back. That said, it’s worth having it set up on your phone just in case (and for use in other cities).
Lyft’s service is pretty similar to Uber’s. The company is a little less forthcoming about when surge pricing goes into effect, but caps it at three times the normal rate, unlike Uber. Anecdotal evidence shows that Lyft treats its drivers slightly better than does Uber. As for user experience, though, the two services are pretty tit for tat.
With it’s $10 flat rate for trips that start and end below 110th Street within Manhattan, this app is great for rides between Midtown, downtown, the Financial District and the Upper West and Upper East Sides. I’ve never used Gett, but my friend Ashley, who is a frequent customer, told me that she chooses it over the other apps when in the outer boroughs because it doesn’t impose surge pricing and reliably gets a car to her.
NYC taxis run on one of two computer systems, and Arro serves the one that Way2Ride doesn’t. Consensus seems to be that so far, Way2Ride is the far superior option, both in terms of its technology and its reliability.
Karhoo is also set to launch in NYC by the end of 2016, and will connect users to both taxi cabs and car service fleets. Stay tuned.
The Old-Fashioned Hail
In certain parts of the city, most notably Midtown during rush hour and places like the West Village and Lower East Side on weekend nights, the old hand-in-the-air technique can still prove the most successful one. Highly recommended when traffic looks jammed.