Ellen and I may have become a little obsessed. In the past month, she and I have Uber’d in two different places, and the experience has changed our lives. While my son taught me the ropes in Nashville, Ellen and the rest of her Mom-tourage took full advantage of its ease of use in LA.
Have you tried Uber yet? It has got to be one of the most impressive apps that I have seen. I’d go so far as to say that its sophisticated technology which simply and conveniently brings drivers and riders together using pinpoints and car locations on a map is revolutionary.
Residents of larger cities already rely on Uber (there is also the similar Lyft which isn’t operating yet in Richmond) as a fairly common means of transportation. It is still catching on in RVA as more drivers are signing up and more locals are becoming aware of its convenience. Here are a few reason to step on the Uber bandwagon.
No money exchanges hands because payment is built into the app.
No tips are allowed.
The app lets you follow the car that is coming to pick you up so you know when it has arrived.
The app gives you estimated times of arrival at your location.
As a rider, you can feel comfortable that your driver has gone through a thorough background check, and the drivers don’t have to worry about the vulnerability of carrying cash.
After each ride, riders and drivers rate each other on a 5-star system. Giving 5 stars is standard so long as the driver was safe and he and his car were inoffensive. Riders and drivers can each choose not to accept a ride when the other has below-par ratings.
No more need for a designated driver when you go out.
You and your spouse can avoid having two cars in one place when you are coming from different locations.
As Ellen found in LA, you don’t have to worry about parking.
The more residents use it, the more other transportation companies will have to improve their services for the public.
Drivers seem happy because they can make their own hours. A driver just logs in when he is ready to start, and his car shows up on potential riders’ maps. Then he logs off when he is ready to call it a night.
The main complaint with Uber is the surcharge that is imposed during high usage times. Simply a matter of supply and demand, the app will tell you what the surge percent increase will be. You can ask to be informed when the surge goes down, but if you have planned to use Uber and need it then, you are going to pay more than you might have planned.
The Uber app should give drivers verbal directions to the destination if they request, just like on the iPhone maps. I had an otherwise wonderful driver keep looking at his phone to find the way. You can tell the driver that you will give him the directions if you know how to get to your destination or tell him that you will follow along with the Uber map and let him know when to turn.
Go to the App Store on your iPhone and
touch the cloud to download the Uber app onto your phone. When you get this message,
click Allow. Then follow the instructions for setting up your account. This will include inserting your payment method, whether with a credit card whose number you can input manually or by taking a picture of it or with Paypal.
You can get your first ride (up to $30) free with a referral from another Uber user. Use my code, alisonf224, or Ellen’s, ellenb515. Now you are ready to go. Your screen will look similar to this.
As I write this, Uber estimates that it will take 5 minutes to get a car to my designated pickup spot, which I moved from my location where Uber had me, to the University of Richmond. When I click on the right arrow in the black box, I get this confirmation.
Click on the Fare Estimate if you want to know how much your ride will cost. I made my destination the iconic Jefferson Hotel.
Not necessarily cheap, but if I want to enjoy a lovely dinner at Lemaire without monitoring my wine intake, I am happy to pay. Exit out of this page and, when you have one, click on the Promo Code button and add the code.
Once you are ready to order the car, click the Request uberX black box. (fyi – an uberX car seats up to 4 passenger cars, while uberXL will hold at least 6.) Stay in the Uber app and watch your car drive toward your location.
Try It. You’ll Like It.
Once you start using Uber, you will wonder how you ever managed without it, especially when traveling in big cities. I am excited for Uber and similar ride-finding services to become more ubiquitous in RVA. Not only is it a convenient alternative for those of us who drive, I hold great hope that it will help transform the way physically and intellectually disabled people can get around town and allow them to be more independent.
February 16, 2015