When it comes to getting around Boston on four wheels, there’s an app — apps, actually — for that. The question, in this competitive and fraught market, has become: which one should you use?
The list of options was set to grow by one this week, as ride-hailing underdog Lyft announced a new service called “Lyft Line,” offering carpoolers discounted rides – for $7 or less to start, provided they’re heading in the same direction and have destinations in a Lyft-approved zones (Harvard Square to the South End, Allston to the North End). It launches in Boston on Thursday.
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But lots of companies are doing the same thing.
The Lyft announcement comes as changes brew in Massachusetts to the ride-sharing scene.
The Legislature is mulling new rules for ride-hailing companies, which could tighten requirements for insurance, background checks, among other provisions.
And Boston cab drivers, who’ve seen their business crippled by smartphone-enabled services, plan to welcome the launch of a cab-friendly app sometime soon: Way2ride. The app, by Californian e-pay company Verifone, is live in New York, and the company said on its website it would launch in Boston and three other cities before a nationwide rollout in all U.S. Verifone markets in 2016.
Outside Boston, there are other apps to watch that hook riders up with old-fashioned cabs.
For example, here’s a name you may not have heard before: Flywheel, another taxi-hailing app that isn’t in Boston but is active in cities on the West Coast. Curb, a similar company, operates in 60 cities, but again not in Boston.
But the battle for dominance in ride-sharing is never over because new tech in the industry isn't a sure thing
Remember Hailo, the London-based service connecting riders to cabs? It pulled out of North America in 2014, saying it couldn’t compete.