A new ground transportation app that fingerprints and drug tests its drivers and does not impose surge pricing is expanding beyond the Bay Area and Texas to several major cities.
The company is called iCARS. It started earlier this year in the San Francisco area and recently began operations in Houston, Dallas and Austin (where Uber and Lyft have been banned). “In the coming months, this growth will be followed by launches in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.,” the company said.
ICARS said it works with local affiliates that can meet its high standards not only for the quality of their vehicles but also for their drivers. While Uber and Lyft have routinely fought against local governing bodies that want to impose requirements like insurance, fingerprinting and independent background checks of their drivers, iCARS says it will only work with local car service providers “who operate insured vehicles driven by professional chauffeurs who meet all state and federal transportation regulations.”
Specifically, it said the vendors it uses must carry $1 million in commercial liability insurance, perform regular maintenance on their vehicles, subject their drivers to background checks and random drug tests as well as fingerprinting, provide driver training, and provide drivers with employee benefits as required by state laws. That means it should not run into the same problems that Uber and Lyft have in gaining access to some major airports (as in Austin).
Besides offering iOS and Android apps that individuals can use to hail rides on the spot or book them in the future, iCARS said it also works with third party intermediaries like hotel concierges, travel management companies and corporate travel offices so that they can book rides for any number of travelers, and it promises integrated expense reporting for users and their companies. The company promises that bookings include no hidden fees and no surge pricing.
Vehicles available for iCARS riders include luxury cars in various categories – i.e., Sedan Class, SUV Class and Sprinter Class or Custom Class, depending on the maximum number of seats.
We checked the pricing for a ride from San Francisco Airport to the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero and got estimates ranging from $59 to $87, depending on vehicle class; from DFW Airport to the Dallas Convention Center the estimates ranged from $80 to $120.
Another Uber or Lyft alternative that employs more rigorous driver checks is Wingz which offers pre-booked airport rides, only. It operates at almost 20 airports, primarily located in the West.
Readers: Have you used iCARS or other ridesharing alternatives yet? Thoughts? Would you be willing to switch to providers that require more rigorous vetting of drivers? Please leave your comments below.
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