In Italian, the word "alto" means high or elevated.
Dallas entrepreneurs Will Coleman and Alex Halbardier thought it would be the perfect name for their new ride sharing company, which they say is all about high tech, high amenities and high safety.
"We're really trying to elevate the experience for passengers and drivers," said Coleman, CEO of Alto.
Concerned by recent reports of people getting into the wrong cars and of passengers and drivers being attacked, Coleman and Halbardier took a hard look at how they could best prevent those kinds of issues.
"And we knew we needed to do something differently to solve for that need," Coleman said.
It's why, for starters, all of their drivers are full-time Alto employees who are interviewed and vetted directly by the company.
Alto also owns and maintains all of the vehicles those drivers drive.
"The car that you’re in is the most important aspect to your personal safety when you’re on the road," Coleman said.
Each of the cars is marked with Alto's logo, making them easy to recognize. In case passengers don't spot their ride right away, they can tap a button in the Alto app that causes a logo on the front grill of their specific vehicle to light up.
The passenger's profile picture will also be displayed on the driver's screen to help verify that they are in the correct vehicle.
"It’s not a big headache in that way," said George Ward, who works as a driver and trainer for Alto. "You don’t have to worry about them getting into the wrong car."
Beyond that, each car is outfitted with interior and exterior cameras. A dispatch center at the company's Dallas headquarters keeps track of where each Alto vehicle is at all times.
"I’m definitely surprised that nobody had done this before," said Katie Williams, who has been a frequent user of Alto since it launched in early 2019.
Williams says Alto has given her greater peace of mind about using a ride sharing service.
"As a single girl, especially if I’d been out at night, it always made me a little leery to get in a ride share by myself," Williams said. "So, I just think they go above and beyond to really make the ride so nice."
Apart from safety, Alto also places emphasis on passenger experience. Their app allows customers to control the music, volume and level of conversation inside the vehicle.
There are also charging cords in each vehicle passengers can use, and passengers have control of the A/C for their specific seat.
One of Williams' favorite features: Alto does not charge any surge rates during peak times.
"It's lived up to my expectations," Williams said.
Alto currently operates in the Dallas, Irving, Plano and Frisco areas. Coleman says they hope to expand further west in the coming months.
The app is available for download in both the Apple App Store and Google Play. Much like other ride sharing services, it requires that you connect a credit card to your profile.
"There's a huge opportunity here to disrupt the travel space," said Coleman.