Alto Offers Alternative to Uber and Lyft

We’ve talked about Alto in the past, but they are continuing to make a splash as they spread to more cities across the U.S., offering an alternative to the big two—Uber and Lyft. In the meantime, Uber and Lyft look to be committing to NEMT services while drivers are not given the choice to opt out of transporting non-emergency patients. Continue reading for this and more in this week’s roundup with senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins.

Alto Offers Elevated Rideshare Alternative To Uber And Lyft (Forbes)

Summary: In the business world, regulation has limited the number of monopolies. But in the rideshare business, Uber and Lyft are a duopoly. Uber accounts for 69% of the market, Lyft 30%.

Nonetheless, the growing industry remains a tempting target for competitors like Alto. Currently a $61 billion business worldwide, ride hailing is projected to grow to $220 billion by 2025.

That is where Alto, a ride hailing service started in 2018, comes in. Based in Dallas, Alto says it is the first ride-hailing provider to hire W-2 employee drivers. Each must pass background checks and get days of training. Alto also manages its own fleet of company-owned “elevated SUVs,” which Alto currently buys from General Motors and Volkswagen.

The service is now available in Dallas, Houston, Miami, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. Alto also will soon launch in the South Bay of SF and Silicon Valley. A spokesperson described Alto pricing as “midway between UberX and UberBlack.”…

My Take: We’ve covered Alto in the past when they were just an up-and-coming alternative, but they continue to take on the U.S. by storm, offering SUV rides while hiring drivers as employees.

Read more about Alto in RSG article Alto – Could This Dallas Startup Disrupt Uber and Lyft?

Alto provides drivers with the vehicles they’ll be using for ridesharing while also providing interior and exterior surveillance and plexiglass barriers. Drivers often state they wish Uber and Lyft would provide safety features like dash cameras to their drivers. Well, Alto is already doing that.

I will keep watching Alto and hoping it comes to my market. I think it’s a great alternative and worth trying out.

Ibex Investors’ newest fund is betting on a mobility revolution (TechCrunch)

Summary: When Ibex Investors founder and CEO Justin Borus looks at the transportation industry — and the technological changes that are coming — he sees one of the biggest opportunities in a lifetime. And with a fresh $113 million fund focused on early-stage mobility companies, his firm is tapping into it.

“There will be more change in the next five to 10 years than in the past 100 years, Borus said, referring to the shift to autonomous vehicles and other changes in the transportation industry. “I would equate it (our fund) to an internet fund in 1996 or 1997.”

Ibex Investors, which is based in Denver with offices in New York and Tel Aviv, was founded in 2003 with a “multi-stage” and “multi-strategy” investment strategy. What this translates to is a firm that invests in private and public companies from the seed stage all the way through to IPO….

My Take: Investing in early-stage mobility startups is a great place to continue moving forward through this new terrain. Momentum and growth is key.

Uber will let you see how many one- and five-star ratings you get (Engadget)

Summary: Uber users have long been able to see their average ratings from drivers. Starting today, they can see how many one-star and five-star ratings they’re getting as well.

The platform’s Privacy Center, which debuted last month, shows riders and drivers a breakdown of their ratings. You can access the Privacy Center from the privacy section of the settings menu. From there, swipe to the right, select the “would you like to see a summary of how you use Uber” tile, scroll to “browse your data” and then tap “view my ratings.”

Alongside the ratings breakdown, Uber has revealed which major US cities have the highest and lowest average rider ratings. Drivers typically dish out higher ratings in San Antonio, St Louis and Nashville. Riders tend to get the lowest ratings in New York City (perhaps unsurprisingly), followed by Seattle and Washington, DC….

My Take: From a passenger point of view, this could be helpful, I think. Personally, my rider rating is not great and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. I always tip either in cash or in the app; I’m not a door slammer; I can read the room to know if conversation is invited or not. I’m at a loss as to why I’m at a 4.83. I wish I knew what ratings I got to lower it, and ideally, I would like to know why so I can try to be a better passenger in the future.

Uber and Lyft are taking on healthcare, and drivers are just along for the ride (The Verge)

Summary: Within the first week that Austin Correll was driving for Lyft in the fall of 2021, he was sent to pick up passengers at an address that turned out to be for a hospital. When he pulled up to the curb, he found an elderly woman in a wheelchair and another other with a walker, waiting for him — flanked by four or five nurses.

He got out and talked to the nurses, who told him that the woman in the wheelchair had just had heart surgery and needed to go to assisted living. The woman with the walker was her daughter, and she also appeared to have some health problems, Correll says.

Correll, who said he started working for Lyft for a few months while he waited for the results of his bar exam, doesn’t have any medical training. He told The Verge he immediately felt unprepared for the responsibility of transporting these two women, who were supposed to go to a motel around two hours away. When the nurses then told him that, on arrival at the motel, he should call an ambulance to help move the passengers into their room, he grew even more uneasy.

“The biggest thing I was worried about was, what if there was a medical emergency? This isn’t somebody who got their arm broken, got a cast, and needed to get home,” Correll says. “These are two people with severe medical issues.”…

My Take: I’ve personally picked up from the hospital before and it was extremely uncomfortable for both me and the passenger. She did have a person with her to make sure she got home safely, but it would have been so much better overall if that person had driven her instead of ordering an Uber.

She had clearly had some kind of procedure that made it difficult and extremely uncomfortable/painful for her to sit down. So, already off to a rocky start, she climbed into my vehicle and was in pain just sitting there without moving yet. Of course, the roads around Minnesota in the winter are trash, either from the potholes created by the snow plows or by the rivets in the roads due to unplowed or under-plowed areas.

Every bump I felt like the biggest jerk in the world trying to get this person home comfortably and failing immensely the entire way. It was a miserable experience for all of us.

Now, don’t get me wrong, NEMT rides could just be transporting a person to and from their medical appointments without any discomfort or extra needs involved.

But, as Bill pointed out on RSG’s Twitter, “In the PHX area most of the clients for this service live on the outskirts 25 minutes or more away. Most 1099 drivers don’t want these rides because you don’t get  paid for the driving out there.”

Is this service profitable for drivers? Probably not enough to offset the potential bad experiences that could happen throughout the course of these trips.

Have you ever had NEMT pickups or drop offs? What was your experience? Is it worthwhile? Is it something that should be asked of Uber and Lyft drivers?

-Paula @ RSG