Uber is really catching traction in this “smartphone” age that we live in. Uber is essentially a ride-sharing service that is 100% smartphone driven. It is generally 20-30% cheaper than taxis in my experience, plus it is quicker, cleaner, and more transparent.
Let’s start with the basics:
Uber is a new take on taxis, technically called “ride-sharing”. You order a ride with the Uber app and the Uber app only. Uber capitalized on the fact that people became sick of taxi drivers “taking the long way” around. Before you order your ride you can get an estimate of the total fare based on the origin and destination that you input on the app. If you were going to take a traditional taxi how are you supposed to know what it going to cost to get from point A to point B before you get in? Answer: You don’t, you are in the driver’s control.
What is it like to order an Uber:
Ordering an Uber from your phone is pretty straight forward. Using your phone’s GPS it will find your location, then using a Google-like free text search, you can search businesses or other addresses. Uber will let you know the ETA of the nearest vehicle before you order the ride. Depending on the city you can choose from basic vehicles, UberX, up to SUV or luxury vehicles, UberXL and UberSelect. When you are ready to be picked up, just request the Uber and the app will then display the driver’s name, photo, vehicle details, Uber rating, and their license plate number. When the driver arrives, they will typically greet you by first name to confirm that have the correct person getting in the vehicle. Just like a normal taxi, you can bring as many people as the vehicle will fit for no additional charge. (Request an UberXL if you have 4+ people in your party) Once you are rolling down the road the Uber app will display your location within the route, approximate ETA, as well as upcoming traffic jams.
What happens once you arrive?
This is the beautiful part. Your credit card info is stored with Uber in the app. You don’t need to have your card, swipe your card, show your card etc. When you arrive, you just get out! (and say thank you, of course). Uber is a cashless service and tipping is not expected. The best thing you can do after your ride for the driver is give him/her a 5 star rating. Like many new programs/services, people like to know what others’ experiences have been. Before you get in the car you can see what the rating of your Uber driver is, Generally in the 4.5-4.8 range. (out of 5). When you have arrived you will immediately be emailed a receipt with your total. I have taken a handful of Ubers and the fare has always been lower than I expected.
Here is an actual example of the “post-ride” email invoice you will receive from Uber.
You can see that our 13 minute, 5.5 mile “ride” in DC was only $11.48 total. If you were to take this ride in a normal taxi you would be looking at closer to $16-17. Most Uber drivers are there for YOU, whereas many traditional taxi drivers are just taking you along for the ride. Uber drivers will may times offer USB charging cords, mints, your preferred musical genre and more. They are ratings driven which means they try a lot harder to meet your needs. A taxi driver really has no accountability so long as he/she gets you there in one piece.
Back in June I took an Uber from Fort Lauderdale to the Miami Airport, almost 30 miles. This ride took 40 minutes and was very comfortable. I was able to charge my phone and get some shut eye before my flight. Grand total? $36. Only $36 for a 30 mile ride in South Florida. In a taxi that ride would be closer to $55-60. The reason we had to take this Uber is because we missed the light rail to the Airport, fortunately the Uber we ordered arrived in 60 seconds. If you are at a random train station in Fort Lauderdale how would you go about getting a taxi ASAP so you don’t miss your flight? I wouldn’t want to find out what that would be like or how long it would take for them to show up. Moral of the story, Uber is faster, cheaper, and more transparent.
Is Uber in every city? Unfortunately, no, but they are in a lot of them. They recently just got the boot in Miami this summer. The Taxi unions clearly don’t like the competition in Florida. Good news, Uber is coming back to Las Vegas in mid September. This should be a great option to get up and down the strip rather than a smelly cab. Here is a list of cities that Uber is in. Uber is in 60 countries across the globe, and they are just as competitive with pricing in other countries.
Thinking of trying it out? Uber will give you $20 in Uber cash if you are a new user. Use this link and download the app to your phone. When you go to take your first ride it will take $20 right off the top (or be completely free if it is under $20 for the ride). Free is good!