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14 Easy Ways You Could Improve Your Ride-Hailing Experience

Apps such as Lyft, Uber can be cheaper than a cab and allow others to track your journey

a man checks a ride-hailing app
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For many, ride-hailing services have become a convenient way to get around.

If you haven’t used Lyft or Uber — or lesser-known apps such as Curb, Gett and Wingz — you open the app on your smartphone and type in your destination to see how much it’ll cost you. In many instances, it will be less than a taxi ride.

To find out where the driver is, you’ll see an icon of a car approach your location on a map, along with an ETA, photo of the driver, star rating from other passengers, make and model of car, and license plate. It’s not unusual to have amenities in the backseat, too, such as a bottle of water or phone charger.

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When you reach your destination, you don’t give the driver cash or your credit card. Your credit card is already charged through the app, and you’re immediately emailed a receipt.

To save money, you might opt to pick up another passenger along your ride. That’s why these mobility services often are referred to as ride-sharing apps.

But you already know all this? Fair, but you can get even more out of these popular transportation services and ensure you have the smoothest experience.

If you’re a friend or perhaps a caregiver, you also can arrange a ride for someone else who might need to go to an appointment, but you can’t drive because of other obligations. AARP reached out to Uber and Lyft for some tips. Lyft declined the invitation.

Before you ride, prepare

1. Start looking early. If getting to a place, such as the airport or a doctor’s office, by a specific time is important, Conor Ferguson, Uber’s mobility communications manager, suggests opening the app a little earlier than you need it.

“Wait times can vary during times of peak demand, [so] open the Uber app 20 minutes before you want to ride to gauge arrival times,” he says. “This will help ensure you get where you want to go on time.” 

Learn online

AARP Driver Safety’s video-based interactive webinar, Using App-Based Ridesharing, lets you learn more at your convenience, starting with how to download the app.

• Register online.

• See the seminar and download tip sheets.

2. Maybe wait a bit. If you’re not in too much of a rush and you see that rates are a little higher than normal, check again in a few minutes. Both Uber and Lyft use demand pricing, so prices go up when more people want the services.

3. Share the ride. You can use carpooling options, called UberX Share for Uber and Lyft Share for Lyft, and you also can choose to split a fare with someone such as a friend. Selecting more than one drop-off spot in the app is easy.

4. Consider a membership if you ride a lot. Both Lyft and Uber offer memberships, called Lyft Pink and Uber One, which start at $9.99 a month. Both plans offer members-only pricing on rides.

Lyft adds a Grubhub+ membership, free priority pickups, and bike, car and scooter rental benefits. Uber offers free food deliveries via Uber Eats; up to 10 percent discounts on some Uber Eats delivery and pickup orders; and a 5 percent discount on other rides. 

5. Be ready to roll. Along with seeing the vehicle’s whereabouts, you’ll be notified when the driver is at your location.

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If something comes up when they’re on the way, if you need an extra minute or two, you can always call or message the driver through the app. Messages are read aloud to drivers through the car’s dashboard display for safety’s sake.

6. Check your pickup location on the app. Sometimes your phone’s GPS location data is off a little, and you may need to move the pushpin on the map to confirm your exact location.

This is sometimes an issue at airport pick-up spots. When in doubt, contact the driver because neither of you wants the driver to have trouble finding your precise location.

When your ride arrives

7. Verify your vehicle. Double-check your ride with the details in the app, such as the license plate, vehicle make and model, and driver’s photo, Ferguson says.

8. Need help? Ask. If you have luggage or equipment, such as a walker, and need assistance to stow it, politely ask the driver, who can help to place items in the trunk.

9. Look for traffic hazards. Before you open the car door to get in and when you get out, check to make sure no vehicles or cyclists are coming quickly.

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And don’t slam the car door when you get in. Remember, Uber and Lyft drivers use their own vehicles.

While on your ride

10. Let others see your progress. You can share your trip information from the app with a caregiver, friend you’re meeting or loved one. This enables them to see your location on a map, along with your estimated time of arrival, and details about your driver and the vehicle in which you’re riding. 

11. Save snacking for later. Think about how you would want others to act if you were in the driver’s seat. Don’t drink, eat or smoke. Avoid profanity or talking loudly on a phone call.

12. Stay safe. In the app, you can always report a safety issue such as a lack of working seat belts or if you’re in an incident or accident.

Both Lyft and Uber also let you discretely contact 911 from within the app. With Lyft, a member from ADT will then contact law enforcement to share your location details. You won't be contacted via phone unless requested.

Through Uber, you can connect directly with 911 by tapping the Emergency button, which shows your real-time location — both on a map and as an address. In select cities, your location and trip details will be automatically sent to a 911 dispatcher.

13. Rate with awareness. Not loving your Uber experience? Your Lyft driver not the most pleasant?

As you pull out your phone to tap two stars instead of five, remember one thing: They’re rating you, too. This two-way feedback is a key difference between a ride-hailing service and taxicabs.

14. Tip for good service. The driver gets to keep all of it.