A column written by NC Capitol Connection State News Reporter Matt Caulder
I learned a long time ago from my father that I don’t have my pants on unless I have my keys, wallet, belt, and a pocketknife.
And because I’m a Southern country boy, that attitude extended to include my truck.
But what about times I’m without my own way to get around?
So I decided it would be good for me to get some firsthand experience with Uber, considering the extremely high probability it and other ride-sharing services such as Lyft will be a leading issue in the long session of the North Carolina General Assembly starting up next month.
Getting set up on Uber was as easy as downloading the application and filling in a few blanks – name, credit card and a few others.
For my first ride, I decided to catch a ride from Downtown up to North Hills.
I sent for a driver and was notified who I would be riding with, what he drove, and his license plate.
That is good information to make sure you aren’t jumping into the wrong car, but what impressed me most was that I could track my driver’s location as he got closer. And I could see on my smartphone that there were other Uber drivers in the vicinity too.
My driver showed up in two minutes and we were off for North Hills.
My driver was nice, his car was clean and everything seemed all right.He was driving for Uber while in-between jobs, trying to make ends meet.
We arrived at North Hills in less than 15 minutes. He drove safely and knew where he was going, so we arrived without any problems.
All said and done, from the time I called for my driver until the time I left the car was just over 16 minutes.
Had I driven myself I may have saved three minutes – not a lot in the grand scheme of things.
Once I left the car, I was notified of the total fare on the app, which was on the low end of my estimate at $10.70.
Also I liked that I could rate my driver (he got five stars) as well as being able to see his rating before the pick-up.
His rating was 4.6/5 stars.
After running into Target to get stocking stuffers and let my driver get far enough away to not be my pick-up again, I called for another ride to get me back.
This time my driver was further away and took a few more minutes to get me, about five minutes in all.
This driver also had a clean car, and a higher rating than my first driver at 4.8/5 stars.
He picked me up right outside of Target and off we were back to Downtown. This ride took 23 minutes from call to drop-off.
He and I talked along the way about Uber and how it worked. He brought up great points about how it is safer for both parties than a traditional taxicab.
No money needs to change hands, you know who is coming to pick you up and they know whom they are getting. They get to rate you too, which might encourage passengers to be on their good behavior.
Having a credit card on file for the rider provides accountability on the rider’s part, as well as having a driver’s name and license plate gives accountability to them as well.
Uber a good transportation option
Overall, if I need a ride somewhere I would say I will use Uber again, the speed that I was picked up both times coupled with not having to bring cash makes it a very attractive proposition for anyone looking for fairly inexpensive, responsive, transportation.
The competition between traditional taxicab companies and the new Uber and Lyft type of transportation can only spur increased service to the consumer whether it be from taxicab companies adjusting how it assigns drivers or some other way.
I’ll have more on that shortly.