Recently eclektech and I decided to take a trip to Austin, TX for a Comic Con Convention in Downtown Austin. We made a reservation at a new Residence Inn (University Area) about 5 miles from the Convention Center Downtown as many hotels in the Downtown area were sold out or overpriced due to the Austin City Music Festival taking place at the same time. I was a little concerned about driving downtown as some streets were closed and finding parking. When researching transportation options between our hotel and downtown I came across several positive reviews of the Uber Service.
What is Uber? Its a smart-phone application that connects you to local residents who will give you rides in their private car. At first I thought this service sounded risky and sketchy. But the more I read the positive reviews about the service the more I wanted to give it a try. There are different levels of the Uber Service you can choose which include normal everyday cars (Uber X), high end sedans (Uber Black), sport utility vehicles (Uber SUV), and luxury cars (Uber Lux). Each transaction is cash less and payment is processed through either a credit card or paypal account linked to your Uber profile with tips included.
Our first attempt with Uber did not work out well. I opened the application and set my pickup location and destination. The Uber Application then assigned me a driver and provided me with his name, photo, and car description and an estimated pickup time of 6 minutes. About 25 minutes go by and the driver was still a no show so I canceled the transaction on my phone and called a cab which arrived within 10 minutes.
When we were ready to head back to the hotel I decided to give Uber another try. This time when I opened the application I noticed there were multiple Uber cars showing on the map where we were located unlike before when we were at the hotel about 5 miles from downtown. So after I established our pickup location and destination our Uber Driver named Allen was there in less than 3 minutes to pick us up. Allen was very friendly and got us quickly to our hotel. The cost of the ride would have been $13.80 but because I signed up using a promo code ($30 credit towards first ride) the ride was free. The cost of the earlier cab ride from our hotel to Downtown was $17.63.
The next day I decided to give Uber another try from our hotel to downtown. This time I noticed there were two Uber Cars showing on the map near our hotel unlike the previous day when most all of the Uber cars were in the downtown area. This time our Uber driver who showed up within 5 minutes was named Ruth and she was very friendly and enjoyable to talk to. She told us some history of the local area and we discovered that she went to college in Harrisonburg, VA which is about 30minutes from our home. The cost of our ride with Ruth was $18.87 which was $1.24 higher than the cab we took the day before.
So I do have to admit I enjoyed using the Uber service while in Austin and would definitely consider it again on future travel. As you can see the pricing can be cheaper or higher than using a cab. The things I really like about Uber is that it is cash less, you get a description of the driver and able to track on a map where the driver is and how soon they will be arriving, and the drivers seems to be friendlier than typical cab drivers. After each transaction you also get to rate your driver. However my advice is if you do not see a Uber Driver nearby your location on the map you may want to call a cab instead as we ended up doing with our first attempt.
Uber offers lots promotions that equals free rides. If you refer someone new to Uber both you and the person who referred you gets a free ride up to $30. Here is a referral link: https://get.uber.com/invite/scottl737
Also if you link your American Express Card to Uber you can get a $10 Statement Credit for using Uber. Just log into your American Express account online and look for the Uber Offer which is valid through 12/31/14.
This is good stuff, thanks for taking the time to share the info and experience. Of course if you boys weren't dressed as Optimus Prime you might have had better luck the first go 'round.
Now as our Lewis and Clark of travel adventures - next stop, AirBnB - give it a go and give us the scoop, otherwise you'll grow old and scared like yours truly .
it is definitely more expensive to use UBER relative to a cab. The convenience is welcomed, but you do not always know what you will get, and there has been some concern that drivers may not have the right amount of Liability insurance in the case of an accident.
let the buyer beware.
This is good to know! I will have to look into this more. There must be some sort of a head that runs all this. I had assumed that to be able to belong, they would do a background check, have insurance, DMV check, some sort of vehicle check like brakes, etc. I also heard that many cab drivers have protested since they are losing business and some of them are quitting and becoming Uber drivers since they make more money.
As you can see from my experience it can be less or more expensive than a cab but pricing is similar. You can get a Fare Estimate on the app before initiating service. Uber does do a background check on all drivers and encourages all of their drivers to keep their cars clean and up to date. If a driver gets a bad rating from multiple passengers they are restricted from providing the Uber Service.
I found an interesting training video on YouTube for Uber Drivers:
jerryl There are also numerious articles about the effects spreading to the Rent-A-Car industry. Might be why GM has invested 500 million in LYFT.
I travel to San Francisco regularly and used to pick up a car at the airport - then have the pleasure of that expense and 65 bucks a night to park.
A two day trip using Uber saves me tons.
Thanks for sharing this information, gonna have to read up on this. Who knows you might get a famous NASCAR driver to be your Uber guy!
NASCAR 1 - Car Salesman 0
You are right some American Express cards allow you to earn double points and pay with points. Here is a link to that information:
Thanks for sharing your experience with us, vaboywnder! You included some great information and helpful insights that are definitely useful for anyone considering to use Uber!
vaboywnder - great post on Uber. I have used it three times . . .
JW Mariott Buckhead to Atlanta aiport - cheaper than a cab, car was immaculate, driver personable and offered me bottled water and had mints available in the cup holders.
Charlotte, NC - round trip to and from a wedding - rider going was OK at best, car not super clean, driver's skills were lacking, and route to destination was indirect (but I did no realize this until our Uber trip back to CY with another driver). Ride back was good, brand new Uber driver, clean car, and direct route.
Overall, my experience has been similar to what shoeman1000 said regarding the convenience.
Do you know which level of Uber you used in Austin? For those uninitiated in Uber I believe there are at least three levels, Uber X, Uber XL, and Uber Black each having a higher base level and rate per mile. Both my experiences have been with Uber X. I have heard that Uber Black is typically "sedan" service from a reputable (right amount of liability) company who uses Uber to pick-up extra business.
Competitors to Uber have popped up in some cities. Here is one called Lyft. Uber has also run into legal challenges in certain cities. Here is an article from two days ago related to Uber's emergence in the Philadelphia market - Ride-share operations prepare for long legal battle in Pennsylvania - Philly.com
erc - Next time you are traveling and out and about dining at a highly recommended OpenTable establishment you can ride Uber back to the hotel.
Thanks for sharing your experience! We also used the Uber X option in Austin as we were just looking for basic transportation. It was funny though when we were downtown Uber also gave us the option for Pedicabs. Obviously we did not choose that option as we had to travel about 5 miles on the Interstate.
I heard of the Lyft service and it is also now available in Austin. It's my understanding that Uber has been around longer and is available in more cities than Lyft. I also used the Open Table app recently and noticed the referral to Uber. Good Stuff it will be interesting to see what the future holds for both Uber and Lyft.
BTW...another option for getting to the ATL Airport from the JW Marriott Buckhead is MARTA. The Lenox station is right across the street from the hotel and can get you directly to the airport in about 20-25min. Of course the downside to taking the MARTA is you may encounter some panhandlers hanging around the station while you wait for a train. Sometimes when staying in Atlanta I'll take the MARTA train from the Airport to the JW Marriott Hotel and then get a rental car from the Hertz desk within the hotel. Usually the rental car rates are much cheaper at the hotel versus the airport location.
I have had a very acceptable Uber experience from my first trip (about a year ago) through today.
I utilize Uber now at every opportunity. My experience has been in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Kansas City, Indianapolis and New York.
If I feel that the service was what I had anticipated and on time I usually tip. Also, the savings alone from taxis and airport limos motivates me to tip.
I live about 30 miles from LAX - for years I paid a town car company anywhere from 60-80 dollars each way (including tax and tip). My average Uber fare (variance dependiing on time of day/traffic) to LAX haas been 45.00.
This new savings by me and many others (according to news reports) is already affecting parking lot companies and the rent a car industry.