Uber and Lyft have fundamentally transformed the way people get around cities. There is no disputing this. But there’s also no getting around the ugly externalities of app-based ride-hailing: hundreds of thousands of low-paid drivers at the mercy of an uncaring algorithm, women passengers subjected to sexual assault and rape, cities choked with traffic congestion, public transportation systems struggling to maintain ridership.
It may shock you, but you don’t have to use Uber or Lyft. The apps have become so ubiquitous, especially for people who live in or travel to cities, that the idea of trying to get around without either sounds daunting or even impossible. But let me assure you, there are better, more ethical methods of transportation.
Look, it won’t be easy. There’s no denying the immense convenience of Uber and Lyft. It’s how both companies managed to worm their way into so many of our lives and become multibillion-dollar behemoths in the process. But it can be done, and I’m here to show you how.
It starts with — duh — deleting the apps from your phone. Predictably, it’s not the most intuitive task. But to their credit, both Uber and Lyft have webpages with a list of instructions about how to delete your account. To delete the Uber app:
- Open the app, and tap the menu icon on the top left
- Select “Settings” and then “Privacy settings”
- At the bottom, you’ll see “Delete Account” in red text. Tap that, and then verify your password.
At this point, Uber will make a final appeal to get you to stay, displaying stats like your rider rating and the number of cities where you used Uber. Ignore their pleas.
If you decide to hit “Continue,” the process doesn’t end there. Your account will immediately be deactivated, but Uber says it will retain your information for 30 days before deleting it permanently. If you change your mind, you can restore your account by downloading the app again. There’s also this ominous nugget to consider: “Uber may retain certain information after account deletion as required or permitted by law.” More on that in a second.
Deleting your Lyft account is more of a hassle than deleting Uber. You can’t do it through the app, only on the web. The link is buried in Lyft’s terms of service under the “Deleting Your Account” header. But you can skip that step and go right to Lyft’s privacy page to get started.
- Scroll down to the FAQ section, select “How can I delete my information?” and click on the link within the text. It then takes you to another page where you’ll be required to verify your phone number and email address.
- Finally, you get to a page titled “Download or Delete Your Info.” Tap “Start,” select your reason for deleting from a scroll-down menu, and type the word “Delete” into a text box. Then, and only then, will Lyft finally delete your account.
It’s an absurd number of hoops to jump through, but the company has no real incentive to make this easy on you. In fact, the more complicated it is, the less likely you are to go through the process. But if you’re committed, you can get through it. I believe in you!
Okay, you’ve done it. You’ve deleted your Uber and Lyft apps. Now what? Well, you need to find a new way to get around town. Here are some helpful options:
- Public transportation: trains and buses remain, in my opinion, one of the best ways to see your city. They can be unreliable, dirty, and can’t take you door-to-door, but you can’t beat the price and the people-watching. Plus, public transportation is the best way to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Taxis: the cab industry has taken a beating over the years, but sometimes the most convenient way to get a ride is just standing on the corner and raising your arm. A lot of taxi companies have apps, too, and some work just as well as Uber and Lyft. Curb, Arro, and GetYellow are some of the more popular ones. The best part? No surge pricing.
- Other ride-sharing services: Uber and Lyft aren’t the only game in town. Other apps like Via, Wingz, Gett, and the recently introduced (and New York City-only) Myles are decent enough alternatives — though just because they’re smaller doesn’t mean they are more ethical or environmentally friendly than the two big apps.
- Car services: a lot of neighborhoods have local car services that residents have been using for generations (and that are struggling to stay ahead of Uber and Lyft). If you’re not staying in a touristy neighborhood, are with friends, or you’ve just moved to a new area, ask around to see if there are any local car services. The quality of these services can vary, but if you can get a recommendation, they’re a good alternative.
- Micromobility: bike- and scooter-sharing services have exploded across the country in recent years. Scooters, in particular, have emerged as a fast and fun way to get around. Sure, some of them are owned by Uber (Jump) and Lyft (Citi Bike), but they have their own apps and can be easily used without needing to keep the big apps. Around 50 percent of Uber and Lyft trips in cities are under two miles, which is the sweet spot for a bike or scooter trip.
- Walking: an absolute classic. 10/10, would recommend.
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