I tried signing up for Bubbl, the new police ride-share app being piloted in Lakewood: Here’s what happened

Between Uber, Lyft and conventional cabs, it’s almost too easy to get a car to come right to your door, no matter the time of day, to whisk you wherever you want to go. But these days, especially for women, safety is a real concern. Last year a woman was sexually assaulted by her Uber driver, one of hundreds of similar incidents reported since ride-share apps became a common mode of transportation.

Dallas ISD police chief Craig Miller. (Photo from DISD)
Dallas ISD police chief Craig Miller. (Photo from DISD)

That’s where Bubbl plans to set itself apart. As we reported earlier, the service is the brainchild of former Dallas ISD Deputy Chief of Police Craig Miller, who stepped down from his post to launch the new car service. All the cars are driven by off-duty and retired police officers, aimed to make riders feel more safe. 

“The name Bubbl represents the notion that each time a customer steps into our vehicle they will be bubble wrapped in safety and security. Having a police officer as a driver reinforces this idea, while giving them instant credibility and providing peace of mind,” Miller said in a statement.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-9-41-57-amUnlike Uber, these drivers come with extensive background checks and are drug tested. They wear uniforms, open doors and help with luggage. It’s meant to feel so safe, parents will entrust their children with the service. Bubbl Kid can be pre-scheduled with the driver of your choice for regular pick-ups and drop-offs at school or extra-curricular activities.

This all sounds pretty great, right? Well, like all new offerings, it has its kinks. And starting at $15-$17 per ride, it is more expensive than the average ride-share service.

Signing up for the Bubbl is pretty basic. When I went to set up a (fake) ride, I faced a flat $15 fee for Bubbl or $17 for Bubble Kids — I guess kids come with a $2 additional service charge. If you’re riding by yourself and plan to stay in the “Bubbl service area,” that’s all you pay (aside from tip). Each additional rider is $5. However, no where on the mobile site could I find the boundaries of said service area, although I did find it here on their desktop site. Currently, it’s offered in on the western side of Lakewood, the Park Cities and Preston Hollow.

It auto-set my pickup location at my office on Gaston correctly on the site (app is set to launch this fall). For drop-off, I typed in Shops at Park Lane, but it couldn’t recognize that location, although it could find the Shops at Mission Viejo in Mission Viejo, Calif. That meant I had to look up and manually enter the mall’s address — a mild irritant but hopefully one with a quick fix.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-9-30-53-amMy only other complaint came at final confirmation — only by looking at the “customer details” tab could I see the total price of my ride. When I put in an address outside the Bubbl service area, it reads “price to be determined,” with no inkling of how much it could cost.

All in all, it seems like a service that will be popular with the safety-conscious, but unpopular with penny pinchers because of the potential to rack up additional charges. Be especially careful about booking in East Dallas since not all of the neighborhood is in the service area.

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