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Capital Region Ridesharing

FeaturePics-Sports-Car-Interior-074001-2310821It’s been a long time coming, but at last Albany has joined the ranks of other thriving metropolises with the arrival of Lyft and Uber. Curious about or intimidated by the service? We tried it out for you!

Rather than extravagant (read: stress-inducing shopping, panicky overspending, inept-wrapping, etc…and that’s just on my end) gifts for Christmas, my partner and I traditionally go out for a “fancy” meal, changing up our usual Saturday night takeout in our cute little house, curled up on the couch with the dogs between us. It’s a great time for us to take a break for each other during the busy holiday season and be sure our relationship isn’t outshadowed in the rush and bluster of the year’s end.

The last few holiday seasons, we’ve hit some of our all-time favorite restaurants, including 677 Prime, Provence, and El Mariachi. Recently, our hearts (and stomachs) have been won by New World Bistro Bar. There are plentiful options for me (a usually-vegetarian who eschews dairy) and for my partner, a light-eater in general who, for a night on the town, morphs into a carnivore extraordinaire. New World Bistro Bar has dishes that have become our standard favorites, and they always have something new and exciting to try if we’re feeling adventurous. They also have fantastic cocktails–delicious twists on standards and an updating list of specials that wow us every time. The 250-Miles from Manhattan makes me swoon. But the drinks don’t pull any punches, so we have to keep it to a single beverage, or take turns as designated driver. Not a tragedy, but less fun for a celebratory meal when we like to enjoy each other’s company with little concern and maybe some holiday giddiness to boot. So, this season we decided it would be the perfect time to try Lyft.

We downloaded the Lyft app, and submitted our bare-bones info. The app is very user-friendly, and there are few settings you can tweak to your liking, such as what you’d like your usual tip to be (it defaults at 20%). A single click after that, and we could see where the closest Lyfts were located, and track the one that picked up our ride as it got closer to our house, allowing us to wait on the sidewalk to meet our (very friendly, gracious) driver a mere four minutes later. The car was clean, the chit-chat was comfortable and unobtrusive, and we didn’t have to worry about parking or a slushy walk to the restaurant in date-night shoes. We had a leisurely and delicious meal (as always!) and threw caution to the wind with second cocktails and a dressed-up coffee with local whiskey. When it came time to head home, we repeated the process–only a three minute wait that time!–and a friendly, efficient ride home later, it was back to the pups safely, cozy with the warmth of a good meal and some luscious drinks. We paid and rated our drive with the app (5 stars–anything less is considered a poor rating) in a simple, cashless exchange.

A few weeks later, UberEATS debuted in the area, and we decided to give it a try. We are semi-regular Mealeo users, but UberEATS seemed like a nice opportunity to try some different fare on a night we didn’t feel up to going out on the town. 40-below windchills set the stage for something spicy and delivered. The process was similar to Mealeo’s and Lyft’s: download the app, link it to your PayPal or credit card, and make your order. We sampled some favorites from El Mariachi. Initially, it was estimated our food would arrive in 35 minutes, which seemed completely reasonable, but it took much closer to 20, to our delight. Another cashless exchange (there’s a standard fee for delivery; UberEATS drivers tend to be picking up food for delivery between rides) and with minimal effort we were digging into great restaurant food in front of the fire on the coldest night of the year.

For ease of use and convenience, it’s hard to beat these services, and if you’re unconvinced or still feeling overwhelmed or not tech-savvy enough for the process, check out this step-by-step tutorial, and let our local ridesharing support your efforts to take advantage of more of what Albany has to offer!