Uber and Lyft have two major things going for them: Their apps, and their low cost.
Yellow cabs may not be able to compete with cut-rate Uber and Lyft pricing, but they are beginning to compete in the app arena.
RideYellow is an app that lets you request and pay for a yellow taxi. RideYellow also operate their own fleet of cabs.
It may not have the features of an app from a multibillion-dollar company, but after testing it out I found that RideYellow is a perfectly functional alternative to Uber and Lyft.
RideYellow: Hail local yellow cabs
RideYellow is an app for hailing local yellow taxis and paying for the ride.
You can also use RideYellow to pay for taxis you hail from the street.
There are a few different experiences with RideYellow: You can use it like Uber and Lyft: to request and pay for a cab all within one app. Or you can hail a yellow cab from the street and use the app to pay for the ride by syncing RideYellow with the cab.
That means no cash transaction at the end of the ride or waiting around for the driver to run your card.
Payment flexibility —Prior to booking your ride, you can choose if you’d like to pay with the credit/debit card stored in the app, or with cash. You can also use Apple Pay or Google Wallet using a device in the back of the cab.
Several ways to request a ride — You can request rides in the app, by hailing a cab from the street, via telephone, or online at ride yellow.com. Flexible request options are good for those who don’t have a smartphone, or for when you want to make a quick street hail. When you hail a cab from the street, you use the RideYellow “Ride Sync” feature to pay for the ride using the RideYellow app.
How much does RideYellow cost?
RideYellow connects you with local licensed taxis that charge prices based on the local rate card. A ride with RideYellow will cost as much as any other yellow taxi in the city you’re in.
View pricing in your city at the RideYellow cities page, which also includes pricing on flat-rate airport rides. One benefit is that prices won’t change during periods of high demand, which happens often with Uber and Lyft.
To see a price estimate, use the RideYellow app to input your pickup and drop-off locations. Next, you’ll see a Ride Info screen that displays a range of price estimates. You won’t get a price estimate if you hail a cab from the street.
RideYellow pricing in Los Angeles
Below is an example of RideYellow taxi pricing in Los Angeles (Source).
- Base Fee: $3.10
- Per Mile: $2.97
- Per 37 seconds of waiting: $0.33
How do Uber prices compare? Read about Uber pricing and (Spoiler: It’s cheaper)
RideYellow offers promo codes and discounts
The RideYellow app allows users to enter promo codes to get a discount. As a new user, I was automatically given a temporary ‘25% off all rides’ promotion, and I also claimed a new-user promo code that I received from a promoter at a local event.
Visit the RideYellow cities page and select your city to find promo codes that apply in your area.
My experience: Requesting a taxi with RideYellow
I was curious to see how a yellow cab taxi service compares to rideshare, so I used the RideYellow app to request a short ride.
From the perspective of a spoiled rideshare user, the experience was only OK. It came with most of the drawbacks that you might expect from yellow taxi services.
The RideYellow app itself was functional, but lacking the polish and features of Uber and Lyft.
The yellow taxi I was matched with wasn’t anything like the newer and cleaner rideshare cars that I’m used to.
To start with, the RideYellow app doesn’t look like the app of a multibillion dollar company like Uber or Lyft, which is forgivable. The basics such as signing up, adding a credit card, and inputting trip details all worked perfectly well. One nice features was that I was able to see an estimate after I input my trip details. My ride ended up being cheaper than the estimate.
Getting matched with a driver was slower than getting matched with and Uber/Lyft driver. I imagine the lag was because drivers saw my destination and didn’t want to take such a short ride. I was a bit frustrated that the first two drivers I was matched with were over 20 minutes away, so I cancelled, waited a few minutes, and tried again.
After I was matched with a closer driver, the app showed where my driver was in real-time on a map. The app displayed my driver’s first name, their plate number, and taxi number. Because RideYellow is both a matching app and a cab app, I wasn’t sure if I should expect a RideYellow branded cab or an ordinary yellow cab. For my ride, an ordinary yellow cab showed up.
The taxi cab was as you’d expect: An older Prius with a worn out interior and paper signs taped all over the interior. The dashboard was covered in different devices, with wires hanging everywhere.
Another possible point of friction was that I wasn’t sure if the driver had my destination as I stepped in. He asked for it, and after I told him where I was going his navigation began to lead him toward the address I had input in the app. At the end of the ride, I was able to rate and comment on the ride, and received a plain-text email receipt.
In other online reviews of RideYellow, some users mentioned that their drivers pressured them to pay with cash rather than the app. I didn’t experience that. When you use RideYellow to prearrange a ride, payment will take place electronically via your card on file, and the driver has no other way to accept payment without double charging you. But if you hail a cab from the street and try to use RideYellow to pay, the driver might pressure you to use cash to avoid paying a cut to RideYellow.
The cost of my ride: RideYellow vs Uber
- The cost of my RideYellow ride: $8.55
- The cost the same ride with Uber: $5.90
- Price difference: ~30%
RideYellow Taxi vs Uber & Lyft
Now that you can request a taxi from an app, how does the experience compare to those other apps that let you request a ride?
RideYellow is more expensive than Uber and Lyft — There’s no denying that Uber and Lyft are far less expensive than taxis. But as Uber and Lyft continue to drain investor money, pricing may raise to match the taxi industry. Some customers might appreciate supporting the taxi industry over Uber and Lyft, even if that support comes with a cost.
There is more uncertainty about the car you’re going to get with RideYellow compared to Uber/Lyft — When you request an Uber, you can expect that a vehicle with Uber branding will arrive. RideYellow is a matching app, so you’re not always exactly sure what you’re going to get. It will be a yellow cab, but from what taxi company? The affiliation between RideYellow and the cab isn’t always clear. And with several different taxi payment devices flashing away in the vehicle, it’s not always 100% clear how payment works, whereas with Uber and Lyft you always know that payment automatically takes place via the app.
RideYellow allows cash payments — One big difference is that RideYellow allows you to pay with cash. Uber and Lyft never allow cash payments, except for tips.
RideYellow allows street hails — You can’t hail an Uber and Lyft from the street, ever. By now, most users are so accustomed to requesting a ride from an app that a street hail feels like something you’d never need. But hopping into a cab at the curb is can be a big benefit when there are long wait times for Uber and Lyft.
RideYellow at the airport — You can’t use the RideYellow app to request a ride at airports. Instead, you have to hail a cab from the street and use Ride Sync to sync up your ride with the RideYellow app. Uber and Lyft allow in-app airport requests.
Read more about other non-Uber ride hailing options
- Blacklane: Higher-end rides arranged online
- What is GroundLink? And when it might be better than Uber
Want to try it? Download the RideYellow app
The RideYellow app is available for download in the Apple App Store and the Google Play store.