Like most people, I’ve been hearing about Uber for a few years now but it was only recently that I used the ride sharing service for the first time. The best part? Learning how to schedule (ie. book) a ride with Uber was really easy.
Call me a late-bloomer on the Uber scene if you will but I was just being cautious. When travelling overseas, I've nearly always pre-booked a private transfer to meet me on my arrival at a new destination, but I was still curious about Uber. Despite the many positive comments I’d heard from Uber users, I was still a sceptic with my main concern being what happens in case of an accident?
I’ve been in plenty of taxis and airport shuttles with very ordinary drivers before but there was always the comforting fact that they were covered by insurance should an accident occur. I was concerned that this may not be the case with Uber but a bit of research – and a really interesting chat with my first Uber driver – put my mind at ease.
Like many new kids on the block, Uber has put plenty of noses out of joint and governments have had to (or will have to) adapt policies to ensure consumers and workers are protected. As this article is about my experiences as an Uber rider (passenger), I'm not going to go into all the pros and cons of Uber and other sharing economy services. If you'd like to read more on the subject, this article on The Guardian’s website discusses some of the concerns of the sharing economy.
Getting started with Uber
Just like another ‘sharing economy’ phenomenon, Airbnb, Uber is a global company but my Uber journey started right here in Australia. During a week-long visit to the South Australian capital of Adelaide, my husband and I decided to give Uber a try.
My husband had previously downloaded the Uber app on his iPhone and set up an account. This required him to link his account to a credit card as all payments are processed via Uber. There are no monetary exchanges between passenger and driver. If you don't already have the Uber app, you can download it from the App Store.
With the Uber app already on my husband's phone, our next step was to schedule our ride. Firstly, we entered our pick up location (with WiFi connection our current location automatically came up) and our drop off location.
The Uber app then showed us how far away the nearest driver was. We could also choose to get a fare quote.
In some locations more than one type (and price point) of Uber ride is available. UberX, UberXL and UberSELECT are everyday ‘economy’ options whilst UberBLACK, UberSUV and UberLUX are premium options. Premium options include a professional driver in a luxury vehicle.
Happy with the estimated price quoted (it is an approximate fare and can change due to traffic conditions) and the waiting time for an Uber vehicle to arrive, we scheduled our ride.
After hitting ‘order ride’, the app allowed us to track the driver to see how far away he/she was and it also gave the driver’s name as well as the colour, model and license plate number of vehicle they were in.
During our ride, we quizzed our driver about the requirements and checks he had to go through in order to become an Uber driver. I found it very reassuring to know that there are some strict criteria for Uber drivers and the vehicles they use including:
• The vehicle used must be a 2001 model or newer
• The vehicle used must have four doors and five or more seat belts
• It must pass a vehicle roadworthy/safety check by an Uber-nominated mechanic
• The driver must have a clean driving and criminal record and has to provide his/her licence details to Uber before being approved as a driver
• The driver must also provide Uber with proof that they are an insured driver of the vehicle they nominate to drive
Other features that I love about Uber
• Every Uber trip is tracked and logged by GPS which promotes accountability
• Once a ride is booked, the driver is provided with in-app navigation giving him/her a turn-by-turn route to get you to your destination
• There are no payment transactions with the driver
• Uber also provides 24/7 support so should something go wrong, there’s someone on the end of the phone to assist
Another point of difference with Uber is that drivers provide bottled water and mints to their passengers. A nice touch.
After our first ride with Uber, we booked another ride for the return journey to our hotel. Both our drivers were friendly and polite and their vehicles were very clean.
We particularly loved chatting to our second driver who had a fascinating story to tell (after we asked) of how he came to live in Australia. I could have driven around all day listening to his amazing story.
After two positive Uber experiences in Australia, I’m now really keen to use the service on my next visit to Europe.
The benefits of using Uber
For me, the benefits of using Uber include:
• No long waits in taxi queues
• GPS navigation and in-app tracking mean your driver must be accountable for getting you to your destination via the most direct route
• Uber is almost always cheaper than a taxi or private transfer
• It's more direct than public transport – your Uber driver takes you door-to-door
• Uber offers a two-way rating system which is beneficial to both passenger and driver
Where does Uber operate
Uber currently operates in over 70 countries, and in more than 400 cities around the world, and has almost 90 serviced locations in Europe. Airports in major European cities including Paris, London (Heathrow and London City), Dublin, Stockholm and Warsaw are amongst those that are serviced by Uber drivers.
Would I use Uber in the future?
Absolutely. The reliability and cost of Uber is something that is very attractive, and now that I know that should my Uber driver be involved in an accident that I am covered by insurance, then I am happy to use the service.
With the Uber app so simple to use, I've no doubt I'll be using the service again and again.
Like to know more about Uber? Check out the website.
Have you scheduled a ride with Uber or would you consider it? If not, what's holding you back?
All images are courtesy of Uber's 'Resources for Media'.