BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT)- You’re in another city, and you need ground transportation. Do you call a taxi, rent a car, or Uber? It’s a new car service across the country, that is growing in popularity.
Tech Tuesday’s David Powell explains how it works in this week’s segment.
The following is David’s conversation on this topic:
If you travel at all, you are typically trying to balance the convenience of a car service with the cheaper price of a cab service. Lots of airports have long cab lines and car services can be really expensive. A new technology company is making this easier for people looking for a ride, but not without some controversy. Let’s explore:
* I understand you recently had an experience with Uber? Yes. I was in DC for a conference and was at dinner with some friends. As we were wrapping up dinner, he said “do you want me to Uber a car”? We asked him what that meant and he showed us. He simply went on an app on his phone, entered where he wanted to go and a driver offered to take us there for $20. The app showed the drivers car on the phone and told us he would arrive in 12 minutes. At that time, the car showed up and took us to the hotel. When we arrived, we simply hopped out and the funds were transferred to the driver from my buddy’s Uber account, which billed his company credit card. Very, very cool.
* Wow. That is cool. So, what is Uber? Uber is a technology company that simply connects riders with drivers. In most large cities, there is a large “black car” fleet—typically Town Cars—that are black in color and are private car services. Uber connects people needing rides with these private cars. This is a win for the rider in that he has immediate access to the cars and they come directly to where he is. This is a win for the driver in that it allows them to make money between normal car service rides. The other cool thing is that all the money is transferred from the credit card the rider has on file to the drivers account. So, it is a cashless system and you don’t have to sit in the car at your destination and wait for your credit card to run and your receipt to print. The receipt is emailed to the address the rider has on file. It is VERY easy and because it is allowing the driver to monetize their downtime, the prices are often the same as a taxi, but for private car service.
* Where are they located now? They are in 24 major markets. Cities like Atlanta, Chicago, New York, San Fran, Denver and more. They are expanding all the time.
* I understand this is pretty controversial in some cities? Yes. The taxi industry is highly, highly regulated. The taxi companies hate Uber because they see it as cutting into their market. Several cities, like DC and Dallas are under pressure to change their laws to exclude Uber for serving those areas. It will be interesting to see how the legal situation works itself out, but currently, Uber provides a very nice and convenient service at a reasonable rate.
If you happen to travel to the cities that Uber serves and need a car, try Uber. It is a free download and takes less than 5 minutes to setup an account.