Lyft, Uber—most of us are familiar (maybe a little too familiar . . . they’re just so easy) with the dueling ridehail services. But did you know that Uber is technically banned in Berlin? Or that, depending on where you’re going, it’s cheaper for a group to split a ride than to take the tube in London?
Of course, public transportation is plentiful in most of the following cities and it’s not impossible to hail a cab. But sometimes you just want the ease and comfort of hailing a ride from your phone. Here’s what you need to know to get around some of the world’s biggest cities by rideshare, plus a few tips from the people who live there (or like to pretend they live there).
“Uber is now a major player in Paris (much to the dismay of taxi drivers), but there’s also ridesharing in which people can drive themselves. Paris has Autolib’, the automobile equivalent of Vélib’, the city’s successful bike-share program. This summer, a fleet of electric scooters called CityScoot launched, without the need for a subscription. All that drivers need is access to their mobile phones to unlock a four-digit code. The speed is limited to 45 km per hour and rentals come with insurance, helmets, and hygiene caps. They can be picked up and parked anywhere, creating more flexibility for people who don’t have to worry about finding a designated parking spot.” —Lindsey Tramuta, Paris local expert
“Uber is available and easy to use in Rome, and the cost is about the same as a regular taxi, with the added bonus of not having to deal with cash. Keep in mind that it’s best for rides within central Rome as I discovered last October after Ubering to a restaurant on the outskirts of the city, but being unable to get an Uber back. Cue multiple (failed) attempts to use my terrible Italian to call a cab on my own—eventually I had to ask the restaurant to call one for me.” —Aislyn Greene, associate editor
“While Uber has a small presence in Tokyo (the only place it operates in the country), it is more expensive than regular taxis, which are abundant, clean, and dependable. The only possible advantage to the former is that it doesn’t assess the late-night surcharge fairly common among taxi companies (typically 20 to 30 percent), so if you’re out partying until the wee hours, it might be slightly more economical.” —Jon Sheer, Tokyo local expert
In August, Uber admitted defeat in China, selling its Chinese operations to rival Didi Chuxing. The only catch? Didi doesn’t yet have an English-language app, although if you’re familiar with the way Uber works, you can successfully use the app using this guide. Note that you’ll need to carry cash or to set up Alipay.
HO CHI MINH CITY
“I used Uber while in the Vietnamese city last year—and it was a lifesaver. Hailing cabs isn’t terribly easy, and it’s hard to tell the vetted companies from the scam-prone ones. You can pay cash, too.” —Danielle Walsh, associate editor
“Since Germany banned Uber and other ridesharing apps, the services have tried to relaunch with different services. (Uber essentially works, legally, here now by calling a taxi—I believe they call it UberTaxi.) But because of the publicity around the ban, even Uber’s newly legal services aren’t very popular here. The most common rideshare app is the more traditional MyTaxi app, which simply calls taxis for you. Its use is relatively widespread and it doesn’t take long to get a taxi. You won’t wait more than a few minutes. But, like so much of how things work in Berlin, sometimes the best way is the simplest way: walking, public transportation, or cycling still rule the road(s).” —Adam Groffman, Berlin local expert and writer of Travels of Adam
While Uber operates in the city, “Ridesharing is not new to Istanbul. Dolmuşes—or shared taxis—have transported locals between neighborhoods for years. Classic American cars like Chevrolets, Plymouths, and Dodges were once the dolmuşes of choice, but modern yellow minibuses have since taken over. Jump in one, pay the driver in cash and ask to stop anywhere along the route. They’re friendly and convenient—just like Istanbul itself!” —Leeann Murphy, Istanbul local expert (and dreamy Instagrammer)
Uber is a well-established, less expensive alternative to the city’s famous black cabs. Until this summer, an Uber was the best way to get around London after the subway system (the tube) closed at midnight; now, however, the tube runs all-night service on weekends. “I used Uber the entire time I was in London last month. Since I was traveling with two friends, it was actually cheaper than taking the tube, which is SO expensive—I couldn’t believe it!” —Jason Seldon, art director
While Uber still faces major regulatory hurdles in Dubai, competitor Careem is zooming ahead. (The company just signed a deal with Dubai’s transportation authority that will allow riders to book any of the taxis and limos that operate in the UAE.) What that means for you: Yeah, you have to go through the process to sign up and link your credit card, but once you do, you can use Careem throughout the Middle East, from Dubai to Cairo.
© 2016 AFAR Media