Tell me about Uber

Thinking of using Uber for a ride to the airport in NJ and also as a replacement for cabs in for cabs on a separate trip to NYC but I am not quite sure how it works. Is it subscription? Do you pay the driver or the app? How do you coordinate with the driver? Is it safe and well run? Any and all info is appreciated. Thanks.

I use it a lot. You get the app, put in your credit card info, and just click when you want a ride. The driver gets notified where you are. Most cities will have a choice of Town Card, SUV, or maybe Uberx (the cheapest). You get a text with drivers name and cell number, along with ETA. The driver gets your name and number, which is useful if they can’t find you. No tipping required, although up I often hand the driver a five.

You get an email receipt. Seems safe and reliable to me.

On * Hollywood Squares, * Peter Marshall asked, “Your wife has just won the Uber Cup. What did she have to do to get it?”
Paul Lynde answered, “Ask Uber.”

(It’s a badminton trophy. A friend of mine in Toastmasters plays badminton. ) :smiley:

I used it recently for transport home from a dental procedure - I was concerned about driving, so I took transit there, but didn’t want to deal with that slowness going home in case my dental anesthesia wore off before I got home. :slight_smile: It was quick and easy and I’ve used it several times since.

Install the app: If you know someone who uses it, ask for their referral code. If you don’t have a friend who uses it, I’m happy to give you mine. With a code, you’ll get your first ride free up to $30 and the referrer gets the same. Set up your account, including credit card info.

When you need a ride, open the app, and make sure the map shows where you actually are (I usually have to tweak it a bit to make sure it matches where I am). Request the ride. You’ll get a picture of the driver and a description of the car - i.e. “tan ford taurus”. When they get there, get in, and tell them where you’re going. Payment, including tip, goes on your credit card.

For clarification uber and uberSUV are towncar-like services and UberX is a collection of people cabbing with their own personal cars - though some cabbies in legit yellow-cabs also do uber. So if you do choose to do UberX, you aren’t necessarily looking for a black lincoln or a yellowcab.

Also the fares are predetermined which is convenient.

Are Uber, Uber SUV and UberX all separate apps or do you choose which you want from a single app?

In Chicago there are 5 options:

UberX: A private driver with their own car. They range from minivans to Cadillacs. The drivers are anything from students with spare time to former taxi drivers. The cheapest option.

UberXL: Same as UberX but a larger vehicle with more seating. Slightly more expensive.

Uber Taxi: A normal taxi cab. Rates are the same as street pick up.

Black Car: A licensed, professional livery black car. Cars are Lincoln Town Cars, Mercedes, etc. Substantially more expensive than UberX/Taxi.

SUV: Same as black car, but an SUV. The most expensive option.

The fares aren’t predetermined. You know the mileage/time *rates *when the ride begins. The total is calculated at the end and shown in the app as well as via email. No cash is exchanged at any time.

Any of the private cars can respond to “lower” calls at the lower rates. So it’s possible that you could call for a black car and get a black SUV. On rare occasions you can get a black car when you call for an UberX if there happens to be a livery driver around with nothing going on. As far as I know, taxis can only respond to taxi calls.

When you call for a car you are presented with a map, address box, and a slider for selecting which vehicle type you want. On the map you will see icons showing where the nearest vehicles are and the estimated time it will take for pick up. There is a pin you can use to show your location, but I always type in my exact address or the name of the establishment I’m at. Once everything is set, you click the “Request” button and your call is broadcast to nearby drivers. When one of them accepts the request your screen will show their name, picture, vehicle make, license plate, and dynamically updating location on the map. In the event you need to contact the driver you can do so through the app via text or phone call (a third party number is used, not your own). When they arrive they will ask for your name to verify your identity.

Then, depending on your preferences, you make small talk or stare out the window.

This. But they are actually pretty good about calling you if they can’t find you.

And I think it’s actually cheaper than a yellow cab. If I’m on the Upper East Side, it’s a pain in my asshole to take the 6, then the S, then the 126 bus or the PATH to get to Hoboken. And a yellow cab might be $70 from the UES. I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $50 for that same trip.

Do you sit in the back seat no matter who picks you up? (Unless you’re the type of person who would sit in the front seat in a normal Yellow Cab anyway)

[Some already-been-said information below, certaintly…]

For the fares: indeed, the fare isn’t 100% known up front, but you can get a pretty reliable estimate before booking if you need it. This is an option in the app.

I use Uber a lot. I’ve used it in several cities, mostly UberX. At the end of your ride you give the driver a rating, and poorly rated drivers are cut off from the system, so there is some reasonable quality control. I’ve never had any problems. Occasionally I’ll get a driver that is geographically dense, not knowing how to get to common freeways from common locations, and I’d prefer not to have to give them turn-by-turn directions, but that’s a minor quibble. (For in-town meandering, I expect to have to say “Turn left at the next light” or whatever. They don’t all seem to use GPS.)

Payment: You’re not supposed to tip. It used to be disallowed, and now I think it’s just not encouraged. A major selling point of Uber is that all payment is automatic and invisible. I never get my wallet out. When I get picked up, the driver says “Hi, Pasta?” (they are required to confirm your name for your safety as you get in, which they seem to do 90% of the time), and I get in. When we get to my destination, I say something like “Thanks a lot, have a good one!” and I hop out. Easy peasy.

I’ve mostly used UberX. Many jurisdictions (mine included) have restrictions on who can pick up passengers commercially at airports, so while you can take UberX to the airport, you may not be able to do so returning. Uber (the black-car version) is about the same price as a taxi for airport returns in my area.

I’ve always found UberX to be fast (city and suburb use). If I’m at my house, it’s under 10 minutes for a pickup, and you can watch the real-time location of the car as it makes it way, so you can finish up whatever you’re doing without wasting any time curbside. If I’m in the city, the wait time is a few minutes max. You can see a map of current car locations before you request the ride, so you know ahead of time whether there are cars in the area.

I always sit in the back seat. There was a thread a while back asking whether people sit in the back or front of taxis. Prompted by that thread, I asked maybe six or seven taxi and Uber drivers what they thought. They mostly said “Either way is fine, people do both,” but that’s obviously the polite answer, so I’m not sure how useful these data are. Anyway: back seat for me. I’m trying to get stuff done, not chit-chat, and the extra space to rifle through my bag is nice.

Sorry for the ignorant questions but are Uber cars marked in anyway? Obviously not on the outside but do they have a placard on the dash or something?

They often (>70%) have a 4-inch (or so) Uber logo stuck to their windshield. Even without it, though, you have a lot of help:

  • You can see exactly where they in real-time from the map in the app, so as they approach, you know the direction they’re traveling and exactly when they will pass you.
  • The app tells you the make and model of the vehicle.
  • The app shows you a picture of the driver.
  • The driver is also looking for you, and if you are standing on the sidewalk with your phone out and maybe giving a non-committal wave to the suspected Uber car, they are likely going to pull up to you on their own. (And you can see then whether the driver is an approximate match to the picture.)

But, yeah, they often have a sticker.

I wonder if the drivers get to rate the customers?
If you get sick or otherwise leave a mess in their car, do your rates go up?

Yes, the driver rates the customer (up to five stars) after the ride. You cannot see your own rating, but the drivers see it when you request a ride, and they can decline your request (bumping it down the chain to the next driver) if you’re poorly rated. I’m told that drivers will tell you your rating if you ask them, but I’ve never cared to know mine, so I haven’t asked.

The drivers themselves see a cumulative tally of the ratings they received during the week. They are not able to connect a specific rating to a specific passenger. Presumably if they only had a few maybe they could figure it out, but either way they wouldn’t be able to quid-pro-quo their rating of you with your rating of them given the weekly timing of their rating report.

Your personal rating doesn’t affect what you are charged. There is an exact and public formula for the price you pay based on distance and time.

Looks like only UberXL is available near my home. I wonder why.

I’ve had nothing but trouble with Uber drivers who have no business driving people around. They have no clue where they’re going, even with a GPS. I don’t mind directing a driver but even that is a chore - one guy wouldn’t take my directions, another guy followed my directions but kept taking his eyes off the road to look at the GPS in his lap. One guy wanted to take a highway in the complete opposite direction to my destination. I’ve had some bad cab rides but not like the situations that Uber’s put me through. I’m done with using them.

I totally get Uber in general, since in most places its hard to find a cab, but why would you want to go out of your way to use it in NYC? Something like 40% of the traffic in Manhattan is yellow cabs. It’s not even cheaper, except for a current sale on prices that applies only to the the creepy “get picked up in some random-ass uninspected car” version. Why bother with that when any local car service will pick you up and take you to the airport for a flat fee?

Separately I don’t find GPS tracking to be terribly accurate in NYC. Buildings weaken the accuracy of the signal, and you might have heard, NYC has a lot of a large buildings, I use Runkeeper which has one of the better reputations for accuracy, and it’s often off by a 1/3 of a mile in a 3 mile run. So frankly I don’t trust the way they charge to be fair and accurate, because the capabilities of smartphone GPS are limited.

I was considering using it in NYC because I was under the impression it was cheaper than the cabs. Cab prices have gone up and what used to be $5 +tip rides are now $10 +tip rides. For some reason I thought Uber would be cheaper than this.

It is definitely cheaper for my possible ride to the airport. Their web site estimates the cost as $13-$18 while most car services have a flat fee of $25+

BTW I appreciate all the discussion. Please keep it coming.

Whaaa…? The flat fare between Manhattan and Newark airport is $65

Oh wait I see, the trip to the NJ and the trip to NYC are two different things. Still, Uber’s flat fare rates to/from NYC airports are higher than TLC flat fares (ie, $60 to JFK vs. TLC’s rate of $52)