Uber: Not the Only Car Game in Town

Uber may be the best known on-demand car service, but it’s not the only one.

Those cars sporting huge fluffy pink mustaches? That’s Lyft, probably Uber’s biggest competitor, with a headlight aimed at the top spot.

Uber may actually be helping Lyft into the fast lane. Uber recently introduced a $1 “safe rides fee” for its UberX service. The company says this fee goes toward the cost of background checks, increased insurance coverage and vehicle checks. At the same time, it raised its cut of the drivers’ fares from 5 to 20 percent.

Taking advantage of that, Lyft announced it was immediately lowering its prices by 20 percent and taking zero commission from its drivers. It already has a “trust and safety” fee similar to the one added by UberX.

SideCar has redesigned itself -- possibly as a way of standing out in the rush hour traffic. Sidecar says it will now allow riders to choose the vehicle, the driver and the price. So drivers who want to build a stable of repeat customers can lower their prices to keep them coming back.

SideCar also took a poke at Uber on its website, promising the fare that shows on your smartphone will be the final price. No surprise charges in your next day’s email, as some Uber customers claim has happened to them.

And if that’s not enough, there are a handful of carpool companies that do everything from link up people who are geographically desirable to those who share special interests, such as hobbies, sports or music.

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