As a New York City resident I don't often travel in style. It's too expensive, so I usually take the subway, a bus or a cab to wherever I'm going. I always take a cab to the airport since it's typically the fastest way from my neighborhood, but it's also expensive. That's why I was so intrigued when a company called GroundLink reached out to me and asked me to test out their on-demand car service with a $100 credit (I've since used it with my own money, too). Here's how it works:
If you're in NYC, you know that hailing a cab in the rain is pretty much impossible. The wait has made me late for flights, meetings and even dinners. GroundLink gets rid of that worry with its mobile applications and website, which allows you to enter in a pick-up location and a destination. Then you can pick whether you want to travel in an economy, luxury, VIP class, Mercedes an SUV or a van — each have different rates and economy is the cheapest.
I tested the service out two days ago to take me from Manhattan's upper east side to the lowest east side for a concert. The trip typically costs about $18 or so, plus tip, and GroundLink offered a comparable price. There's a minimum 30-minute RSVP time, so I knew I wanted to book early in order to make an 8:15 dinner reservation before the concert. I placed my order for a car at 7:15 from my phone and, not even 10 minutes later, the app told me that a driver was just around the corner. There's even a small car indicator showing exactly where the driver is and an ETA for when he or she will arrive. Within just a few more minutes I received a phone call that the driver was already outside.
My girlfriend and I left the apartment to find a comfortable Lincoln towncar waiting for us just outside of our door. The driver already knew where we were going and we didn't have to worry about traffic, which drastically increases the fare of a taxi, since we had already pre-paid for the car.
We sat back comfortably and the driver dropped us off at our dinner destination. A few hours later we used the service again. This time I tried to book two reservations: one for my friend to get back to the bus station and one for us to get home. A driver, again, came early for my friend. However, we didn't have any updates on our own ride since the app only shows one trip at a time. That's something the service should add in the future. Thankfully, however, I received a call in just a few minutes that our driver was also on his way.
We received first-class service the second time around. Our driver got out of his seat and opened the door for us. He did the same when he dropped us off at our apartment. Unlike taxis, you don't have to deal with blaring TVs or radios — this is top-notch driver service. Plus you don't have to worry about how much you should tip (NYC taxi drivers can get upset if they feel ripped off on a tip), because GroundLink automatically adds a 15% gratuity and the drivers seem pleased with it.
Now, here's the thing: You're not going to want to use GroundLink for a short trip. The rates aren't comparable to taxis, which could cost just a few bucks to go ten blocks. Instead, GroundLink is the perfect option for leaving the airport or traveling across town.
The service is available globally, too, and recently just launched in Los Angeles. I have several flights coming up in which I plan to use GroundLink to get to the airport, instead of a taxi. The rates are better; GroundLink charges just $49 to JFK, and that includes tip and any tolls along the way, while a NYC taxi costs $45 before any tips. I often end up dropping $55 or $60 on a trip to JFK. Plus, I don't have to do anything but sit on my couch, place an order from GroundLink from my phone, and wait until the driver calls when he or she is outside my door.
The next time you're traveling in a city and find yourself waiting on a curb in the rain, be sure to give GroundLink a whirl, I'm certain you'll love the service as much as I do.
[Disclosure: GroundLink offered us a $100 credit to test the service. We used up the $100 and have spent $60 more on additional rides since using the credits.]