I just had my first Uber ride. And it was fun!

Uber is Fast

Uber is fast and accurately estimates your pick up time. I was traveling to the airport this morning in Fort Lauderdale, FL. It was very early. About 4:30 AM. My flight was at 7:00 and I really didn’t know how long it was take for the Uber to get there. I had been looking at the Uber app all through out the previous day and it was showing me “estimate” times that a driver could pick me up. Every time, it said under 15 minutes, and usually under 10. Naturally, I said to myself, “yeah, but it says estimate. Some people are pretty generous in what that means.”

When it came time for me to order my ride, it said 11 minutes. Not bad, if it’s true, especially since is butt-crack early. He showed up in 3 minutes! I was scrambling to brush my teeth and get my clothes together so he didn’t have to wait. I wasn’t sure what they do or how long they wait if they can’t find their passenger. It took me about five minutes more to get down there, but he didn’t mind.

You feel safe with Uber

The Uber app told me the driver’s name, license plate number, and car make and model. That’s pretty easy. I do wish it would tell me the color too or even a picture, but it did show me a picture of the driver. We made sure we were looking for each other, he helped load up my bags, and we were off. Turns out, he’s under the impression that it is supposed to show me a picture of his car, but it doesn’t for some reason. When I first heard of Uber I was unsure how I felt about being picked up by strangers. Turns out, cab drivers are more of a stranger than Uber drivers. You just get in a cab because it’s yellow. You get in an Uber because you’ve already seen his face, know his car, and he greets you happily. Apparently, drivers have an SSN background check and vehicle inspection before they can drive too. I know because I started the sign up process just to see what they ask for.

My Uber driver’s car was exceptionally clean

There wasn’t a speck of dirt inside of it. Maybe he had just cleaned it, but I got the feeling like he was proud to present the best his car could offer. I felt a little bad that we had to put my filthy trunks on his freshly groomed seats. Compared to the cab I took from the airport to the hotel just two days earlier, I don’t think we can even call that a car. It was more like a motorized horse wagon, complete with a somewhat foul smell. There were even bits of filth on the ceiling! I should probably have the doctor check me out for hoof and mouth disease.

Uber is cheap

Finally, my favorite point, Uber is cheap. My final bill was $31 while my cab ride before for the same reverse trip was $35. I know what you’re thinking, “Wait a minute. Four dollars is not really that big of a deal.” You’re right, but what you don’t know yet is that I paid 2.9 times the regular rate! That means the ride would have been $15 at most at normal rate. Now, the reason my rate was increased is actually pretty clever. It turns out that Uber will “surge” prices when there are too few drivers out on the road. This encourages them to get out and accept fares do meet demand. I suspect there are surges throughout the day and the app gives you the option to wait and it will message you when they lower again. Supply and demand. I love it!

It was a flat fee too. Cabs are metered, usually, so I always wonder if they do a few circles just to pump their fare. After all, I don’t live in this city, I wasn’t given an estimate earlier, and the longer they drive or wait, the more I pay. Uber eliminates that. An Uber driver is incentivized to get me there as quickly as possible. Cabbies do want to get you there quickly too, but you cannot deny that the system does occasionally motivate scammers.

I mean, it’s kind of a bummer sometimes as a passenger, but usability wise, it makes perfect sense. It ensures that drivers are always available, which is something I needed at this early, early hour. And if I didn’t need it, I can wait. I know if you asked me to work at 4:00 AM for the same rate I’d tell you to piss off. I suspect that surges are common during bad weather too. I don’t like to drive in the snow, at night, or in the rain. If I were a driver, a higher rate would encourage me to deal with that nuisance.

Uber is good for the economy

One of the best things: Uber is creating jobs. My driver told me he is a stay at home dad and does about 20 hours a week, as a way to relax on his leisure time. Seems a little contradictory, but nonetheless. Uber was able to offer him terms that fit perfectly with his desires and schedule. I doubt cabbies have that luxury. Drivers seem to make good money too. He told me it averages about $400 a week! That’s $20 per hour. Your mileage may vary. LOL.

At $20 per hour, I could work under 10 hours a week to cover the payment on a new car. My wife got the new car two summers ago. I’m still pushing around our ’99 Junker. It would be nice to have a new car, and five hours a week to pay for it ain’t bad. I waste at least that much time doing other things. I may really consider this.

Tell me about your first Uber experience. Was it fun, reliable, and cheap? Did it work out for you? Are there common pitfalls that I just lucked out on?

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Uber: Fun, Clean, Fast, and Cheap