Uber crashed (car pun #1) onto the Minneapolis scene, or at least on my radar, a couple years ago. For a few solid months my Facebook newsfeed was inundated with posts from people offering $20 off and “First Ride Free” coupons. I had friends that constantly raved about how great Uber was and I had friends who told me about some of their sketchy experiences, but the one universal seemed to be that everyone was talking about it.
It took me about a year and a handful of rides in ubers that other people ordered, to actually download the app myself. Why waste cell phone data when a perfectly good taxi was hailing distance away?
Presented as a classier cab alternative, Uber does, indeed, have a lot of positives, but is it really better than a cab?
Cabs are gawdy. They’re bright yellows, greens, and blues, but they’re also discernible. They also have a light on the top that shows you if they’re available or not. The negatives? Cabs generally smell like other people’s bad life decisions with a side of cigarette smoke. I’ve been in some pretty beat up cabs in my day where seats are ripped or duct taped together. I had one memorable trip in St. Paul where the driver had even duct taped a 2″ compact mirror to his shattered rear view mirror…life hack or death trap?
Ubers on the other hand are sleek, clean, and black. Riding in an uber is equivalent to riding in a town car. They are not, however, as easy to pick out. When you order your Uber they do tell you the license plate number to be on the look out for, but when I’m out and not wearing my glasses it can be an awkward stare down at the driver trying to determine if that’s a 3 or an 8 in a line of black cars until they break down and shout out their rolled down window, “Are you Tara?”
Ordering a cab is hit or miss depending on the day/time. It’s standard procedure to expect a 45 minute wait for a cab to appear, which can be great if you’re trying to finish that last pre-game drink, however, more than once we’ve had our cabs randomly cancelled by the company or had cab companies refuse to pick us up, because there weren’t any cabs “in our area.” On the positive side, if you’re in the cities from 1-2am cabs are generally everywhere you just have to hail it faster than someone else.
Ordering an Uber is as easy as clicking “set pickup location” on the app. You can see what drivers are in your area, select the type of car you want and see how far away they are. If you’re in the cities it’s pretty standard to have one within 10 minutes and even now, while getting my oil changed in Roseville, there are Ubers available less than 10 minutes away!
The other major bonus is that you can also send your drivers messages through the app. I’ve had my driver call me before when he wasn’t able to locate me in the crowd as well.
Uber uses Paypal through their app, which means that you see what your rate is estimated as and pay for it at the time of order. No cash transactions, no need to *remind* the driver that it’s the law that they have to accept card payments, and their tip is built into the ride rate. You do, however, need to have a Paypal account set up and you won’t know the exact cost of the ride until it’s already processed.
Uber Downside: Surge rates. Depending on the time of day, normal rates are multipled by whatever the “surge rate” is. Here’s a horror story of a woman who had to pay $411 for a 20 minute ride. To be fair, Uber has since updated their app to clearly show surge pricing and you see the estimated cost before you place the order.
Cash is key when paying for cabs. For someone like me, who never carries cash, it can be an extra hassle to remember to take some out for the trip. Although it is state law that cab drivers do need to accept cards, I’ve had more than one try to tell me they don’t, which means they’ve had to be gently reminded of the law. Plus, paying for a cab is like tipping a waitress; cash is kind.
Winner: Uber, because I’m not a cash carrier and I hate trying to figure out how much to tip!
- With a cab you need to ensure that the driver has actually turned on their meter and that they’re going the most direct route. With Uber you see the rate ahead of time, so they already know what you’re expecting.
- Safety is also a concern. My last Uber ride the driver was watching his snapchat stories while driving me downtown. While I understand that there are a lot of stoplights, it’s still not appropriate for him to be looking at his phone. On the other hand, cab drivers are stereotypically road terrors who do not care about street signs and stop in the middle of the road if they think they see a patron.
- In my experience Uber drivers rely more on their GPS than cab drivers. Uber drivers can be college students just looking to make some weekend money, while cab drivers are usually career drivers.
Overall Winner: Uber
Feel free to use my friend code to get your first Uber ride free by using my code “tarag379.” You’re welcome 😉