I’ve just taken a ride with UBER for the very first time and I’m now officially a raving fan – I love this “taxi” type service that is sweeping the world’s large cities. Uber has me thinking about taxi transportation in a whole new way because they solve issues I really never realized I had with traditional taxi transportation.
In case you’re not familiar with Uber, it’s a smartphone app that is based on popular peer-to-peer sharing technology. In this case, Uber is a ride-sharing app – you need a ride somewhere and lots of folks would love to pick up a little extra cash providing you with a ride. Add a sophisticated core of background checks, insurance, payment technology and user ratings, and you have totally redesigned how people call for a ride. As you might suspect local governments and traditional taxi companies are in a tizzy about this grass-routes development. But just like AirBnB, once you give people the option of interfacing with each other directly, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle.
Here’s how my ride came about. I was at a family party in the city and was not feeling well. I told my husband to stay and I’d call for a cab and go back to the hotel. My son stepped in and said, “Wait Mom, I’ll order an Uber ride for you – Bob (here’s his picture) is right around the corner in his Toyota Camry and by the time we get downstairs, he’ll be waiting to take you to the hotel. Don’t worry about money or tip, the cost will be posted to my credit card on account”. And there was Bob, a pleasant middle-aged, clean-cut guy, who drove me quite pleasantly to my destination, while we chatted all the way. I was so impressed, I used Uber several more times during my visit to Denver.
Here’s why I preferred my Uber rides to any taxi journey in recent memory:
#1. The cars were SPOTLESS – every driver took pride in the pristine condition of their vehicle. Driver Bob provided bottled water, mints in the cup holder, and current magazines in the seat pocket. I cringe every time I climb into a cab – they are usually filthy and stink like they haven’t been cleaned in years! Uber users can click for a standard car, ‘black’ car or SUV according to their needs and budget.
#2. The drivers had great personalities, knew the city well, and were more than willing to carry on an interesting conversation. Most taxi drivers I have experienced have limited English skills, are all too willing to try to boost the fare, and often drive like madmen!
#3. Cars were never more than a block or two away, so the pick up was almost instantaneous. No more waiving your arms and doing a dance on the street corner to attract a taxi or squinting at the sign trying to figure out if they are available.
#4. It was wonderful to know in advance that the cost of the ride would be based on a direct GPS route with a predetermined % as the tip. No more fumbling with bills and worrying about change or wondering if the cabbies credit card machine would work.
#5. You can instantly rate your driver so they actually CARE that you had a good ride with them – brilliant! If a driver gets several bad ratings they are deactivated from the system. And yes, they can rate you as a rider as well.
These are such radical and needed improvements to the traditional taxi ride that the service has spread like wildfire all across the globe. Today you can tap your phone for an Uber ride in 36 countries from America to Europe, to the South Pacific, and in over 60 cities in the United States. For me, I may never step into a traditional taxi again! And by the way, why should taxi medallions cost tens of thousands of dollars and why do taxi drivers in London need to memorize thousands of routes? Seems that change is definitely in the air.