Uber. It’s an app for getting a car. But, like, easily. Whether it’s rush hour, or raining, or some jerk just walked a half a block up 5th Ave and stuck out his hand even though you know he saw you standing there clearly hailing a cab and you’ve been there for, like, five minutes and…whatever. For these scenarios and many more, it’s all about Uber.
Originally a San Francisco company but now in 13 cities internationally, Uber set up shop in New York early 2011. Their business is offering us an easy option for all our livery needs. iPhone or Android set up is quick. Just download the app and register an account at Uber.com and that’s that. When you’re signing up you’ll give them your standard deets, mobile number, and whatever various payment methods you juggle your debt across. Takes about two minutes (not counting time spent fishing through wallet for cards). Whenever you need a car just set a pick up spot on the Uber app Google map (dig that). Done. As soon as you open the app, all the cars then driving for Uber show up where they are in real time and there’s a line at the bottom that tells you how many minutes the nearest car is from your location. Once your spot is set, just chill out. No need to watch the windows, no need to fret, nobody’s gonna come and lay in on the horn till you run outside. You’ll just get a quick text: “Hi [You] your Uber is arriving now!” When the driver drops you off just smile, say thanks, and get out. Payment is automatically charged.
On average the cost is about 50 percent higher than yellow cabs. With base rate at eight bucks plus $3.90 per mile, or $0.95 a minute at speeds under 11mph. With an average pick up time of six minutes after ordering the car, the idea though is that you’re paying that premium for the convenience of a car service that’s truly on-demand. Though, word is, a “Lower End car type” that would be around 25 percent off the current prices is “coming soon”. When I took Uber from my home in Bushwick up to their headquarters around Nassau and Metropolitan, the fare was 24 bucks. More than if I’d called my usual black cars, but I could see the boon for Brooklyn riders being the pleasure of avoiding yellow cabs whose drivers need directions at every turn, or just the guarantee of a nice ride. Seriously though, we all know that special feeling when you call for a car and that glossy Suburban rolls up instead of your standard cop auction Crown Vic, and inside it smells like NuCar instead of farts and cologne. It makes you feel like you deserve it. Which you may.
Even so, Josh Mohrer, General Manager of Uber NYC and authentic lifelong New Yorker, says that for him “it’s not really about what kind of car I get. It’s about how I have to get the car and how I’ll have to pay. With [Uber] you don’t have to compete with all these people trying to get cabs up Broadway. You just press a button and you’ve got the ride. Mostly the transportation service industry is, you know, uncivilized. If there were restaurants that said ‘Yeah, we’ll serve you food, but only if there’s enough’ and you had people pushing and shoving and competing for their meals? That would be insane. That’s silly. For decades we’ve just allowed this industry to be uncivilized, and I don’t know why that is.”
For Uber the goal is efficiency, and now, thanks to what tubular dudes in the 1980’s would have called “Radical Future Stuff, bro,” efficiency is their reality. Thanks to Uber, it’s our’s too. See since the whole deal is automated the company is able to get direct feedback that just wasn’t possible before. You liked your driver? Give them five stars. More, though. Next time you open the app you’ll be asked to provide a little write up. Not that you have to but, like, say what happened was that y’all were just trying to get from Bedford ave down to that party at Myrtle/Wyckoff but your driver gets on the damn BQE and now you’re gonna get charged way too much and you’ll only have enough money left for the cover and maybe a couple of Coors Banquet 24’s, right? Don’t freak out, people. Tell Uber what happened—that the driver took the wrong route—and they’ll look at the trip log (all tracked on the GPS) and be, all, ‘Dang. Yeah. No problem, buddy. We’ll take care of that for you’ [Not an actual quote. Author’s rendition of company response based on assumption alone]. We can leave 311 out of it.
For drivers it’s just as sweet. Uber hooks them up with a free iPhone and data plan and when they want to work they just open their app. There’s no crackling beep boop dispatch radio, the job will always go to the nearest driver, they’re immediately set up with the GPS stuff, and payment is handled automatically. “The driver shouldn’t be the cashier,” here’s Josh Mohrer again, saying how drivers “shouldn’t have to worry about handling the money. They shouldn’t have to worry if somebody’s going to jump out of their car and not pay them at all, or if a passenger’s going to puke in their backseat and leave them responsible for the clean up. With Uber the app takes care of it all. The rider pushes a button and gets a ride. The driver chooses when they want to work, and we cut them a check that’s exactly what they earned.”
No hassle. An easy ride, reliably provided, and in a nice car to boot. That’s what’s up.
Have you tried Uber? Is it worth? Are y’all willing to pay the premium for a streamlined system and a little peace of mind? Let us know in the comments.