Thursday, September 3, 2015

I took Uber to the airport!

Everything involved in your Uber experience uses SmartPhone technology, from ordering your ride, to the pickup time and place, and paying for the service. That's right, no fumbling around for money any more. You even tip using your phone!
Here is part of the receipt you receive via email after your drop-off.
So I'm going out of town for a few days and caught a plane out of PBIA. Sometimes I take a taxi which is $25 with a tip one way. Sometimes, if I'm not gone for long I'll take my car and park in the long term parking lotbut I'm not a real fan of that for a number of reasons. Cost is one and the long walk to the terminal with luggage is another. It's also hard to get around that parking garage and find an empty space. So this time I decided to try Uber.

Uber is a smartphone app that links you to a network of Uber drivers that use their private car to pick you up. It's considered part of the new, sharing economy. When you install the app on your phone you register the way you will be paying. There are many options. I used a debit card. When you get dropped off you get your luggage and go; you've already been charged for the ride and no need to fumble for cash or a credit/debit card.

On Tuesday I turned on the Uber app and it immediately presents a map that shows your current location. You touch on an arrow that shows where you want to be picked up and it tells you how many minutes away an Uber driver is. I learned from this driver that the app immediately connects you to the nearest available driver. In seven (7) minutes he was at my house in a nicely kept, late model Honda Accord. I put my bags in the trunk and we were on our way.

It turns out that this driver had been "active" for the past three hours. I asked him what caused him to start driving for Uber and he said that he had been released from a job where he made about $8.50/hr; with Uber he averages about $16.00/hr. On weekends he can make $150 to $200 in a full day. It is at his complete discretion when he activates as a driver and he can do it for as long or as short a time period he chooses.

My total fare to the airport was $10.25 which is less than half the fare a taxi would charge for the same service. The driver was a pleasant gentleman. In his experience dropping off people at the airport was easier than picking them up. Taxis still hold sway at the airport due to an agreement they have with the County; they don't appreciate the competition and they let the Uber drivers know it. He didn't show me but if you know what to look for there is hardware on a vehicle that gives it away as an Uber vehicle.

It looks like Uber is here to stay. If you have used the service or another similar one and want to share your experience, email me and I'll publish your comments here on this blog.