April 6, 2017

A startup lover’s guide to getting around San Francisco


Mobile showing GPS

If you love tech startups as much as I do, you’ll probably be just as fascinated as I was with the many techy ways San Franciscan entrepreneurs have developed to get around their city. Here are just a few options from a city very much on the go.

Share your ride-share with UberPool

UberPool is a practical way of getting around. UberPool matches you with riders on your route in real time, so you get the usual Uber convenience and comfort, but cheaper and contributing to less cars on the road.

How does it work? You enter your destination and select “uberPOOL”, then compare how much your ride will cost, against Uber’s other options. Once requested, you’re matched with other riders travelling the same way. It’s a great way to make a friend, have a quick chat – and most of all, save some money on your trip, while only adding a few extra minutes to your drive time.

And even better, you still get a reduced fare regardless of whether or not you end up being connected with other riders.

Uber real-time notification

Here you can see how I was riding in an Uber when I got the real-time notification that my driver would be making a quick detour to pick up Syeeda – the person I’d be sharing my car with. Ultimately, this barely affected my arrival time.

Get a Lyft around San Fran

Lyft is Uber’s very hip and very pink rival. Founded in 2012 and based in San Francisco, Lyft is Uber’s biggest ride-sharing competitor and is rapidly taking off all over the US – it’s currently only available in the States – operating in 300 cities.

Lyft is serious about happiness and its mantra “happy drivers and happy riders” seems to be working. According to Lyft, Lyft riders have tipped drivers over $200 million since the company’s inception in 2012. And with social media campaigns like #LyftLove – allowing riders and drivers to share positive Lyft stories – the feel-good Lyft ride keeps on rolling.

Find the best Waze to go

Waze touts itself as the world’s largest community-driven traffic and navigation app. What does that mean? Well, Waze is a GPS-driven navigational app like Google and Apple Maps – and Google did actually acquire Waze in 2013 – with one big difference: it allows its users to update maps and submit real-time travel disruption updates and route details.

Waze provides the most current and accurate traffic updates, so you always have the best chance of getting somewhere on time, whether you’re off to an important meeting or simply checking out the sights.

NB: Waze is available anywhere in the world, however, to make it useful it requires a large user base to provide current data. Its user base is growing rapidly in Australia and we were ranked number 14 out of 38 countries in last year’s Driver Satisfaction Index.

Choose Chariot and never have to search for another seat on the bus

Chariot is one of the more interesting tech-driven transport options in San Fran. It’s designed as more of a mass-transport option than Uber or Lyft, and uses mini-buses (14-seater vans) along demand-specified fixed routes in San Francisco. It’s like the mid-point between public and private transport.

Much like Uber, you book a ride using your Chariot app, then use the map to find a Chariot pick-up stop near you. With rides as low as $3, it’s certainly a cheap way to get around, without ever having to step foot on public transport.

Chariot is currently in the process of being acquired by Ford Motor Company, so keep an eye out for exciting innovations coming from this transport startup in the coming years.

Feel the wind in your face with a Scoot around San Fran

Scoot is for thrill seekers and enviro-conscious commuters alike. It’s a network of hundreds of electric scooters that you can pick up and drop off all over San Francisco.

But the transport technology that impressed me the most is this: Scoot scooters use keyless plug-in technology – instead, riders activate the scooter via the Scoot app.

And the scooters only emit about 2% of what a car emits, so it really is the greenest (motorised) way to get around. Never ridden a scooter before? No worries! Scoot offers in-person classes and online video instructions that’ll have you zipping around the city by the bay in no time!

Want more tech insights direct from Silicon Valley? Check out the 5 tech trends for 2017 I discovered while I was there.

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