For those in Seattle that like hailing a ride with their smartphone, but don’t necessarily want to use Uber, Lyft, or Sidecar — or deal with surge pricing — there are a couple new options now available.
Today AsterRIDE announced that it will expand to the Seattle region this month and work with established taxi, limo and luxury car transportation companies like Yellow Cab of Washington and Sabra Limo to offer ride-hailing apps for consumers.
Unique features of AsterRIDE include the ability to remember past bookings, save favorite locations, and search recommendations with Yelp ratings. The app also has something called “instaALERT,” which updates family and friends of your ride status and notifies them if “something goes awry during your journey.”
Seth Rudin, CEO of AsterRIDE, touted the app’s safety features as Uber deals with its own security issues.
“Passenger safety has become a controversial topic for ride-sharing companies throughout the nation and the Puget Sound area,” Rudin said in a statement. “We wanted to make it safer for passengers, especially women, children and single riders. Our goal is to instill confidence in our service and give a peace of mind.”
AsterRIDE is already available in Phoenix and Orlando, and will be “coming soon” to Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Miami, Atlanta, and San Francisco. You can download AsterRide on both iOS and Android.
Last month, meanwhile, Saytaxi Washington announced its availability in Seattle. Saytaxi mostly works with drivers outside the U.S., but has been active in the Seattle region for the past few months. In February, it partnered with Seattle’s Green Cab taxi company. Saytaxi is available on iOS and Android.
“We couldn’t be happier to be working directly with Green Cab,” Michael Zang, Saytaxi Washington founder, said in a statement. “Many real-time ride-sharing companies have taken customers from cab drivers and they have suffered because of it. These drivers are small business owners and an essential part of the Seattle transportation system.”
This all comes after Seattle’s largest taxi fleet, Yellow Cab, developed both a booking app and a new dispatch system for its 560 drivers in December. Other taxi fleets in Seattle use Flywheel for mobile ride-hailing, while Orange Cab has an iOS and Android app and STITA uses Curb (previously Taxi Magic). Private for-hire services like Crown Car have also recently debuted their own apps.
Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar — which pay everyday drivers who drive their own cars to offer rides — first spearheaded the hail-a-ride-with-an-app movement and began conducting business in Seattle in 2013, quickly gaining popularity, despite the city deeming their services illegal. The City Council ended up legalizing these “transportation network companies” this past summer.
Uber and Lyft have both dropped their rates in Seattle by more than 35 percent in the last year.