August 1, 2013

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Taking UberX for a spin

When one is going out for an evening of drinking and debauchery, one does not drive. This applies doubly so when one only has a motorcycle (2 Wheels + Booze = Quick way to get dead). So when I went out recently for a night in SF, I took a couple of trips with UberX.

My evening wasn’t anything complicated, but it consisted of 3 legs. Home to Lauren’s for dinner. From Lauren’s to a bar in Hayes Valley for my boss’ birthday. Finally, from the bar back home. Where I live in SF is a little farther “out” so it can be challenging at times catch a cab — so Uber is not uncommon for starting my evenings. Additionally getting a cab at 1 AM can be a roll of the dice, so Uber is also not uncommon for that either. For this particular evening I had decided to take UberX for all three legs of my trip since they had

announced a price drop not too long ago.

The total for my three-trip evening was $54, most of which was my initial stuck-in-traffic ride. I’m not sure if this is cheaper than a taxi (as advertised), but it certainly was less expensive than many of my previous Uber trips. The price was really not a problem at the end of the night. While I’ve read some twitter horror stories about UberX drivers, I experienced none of that. All of the drivers were very pleasant to me and I had no issues what so ever. One driver explained to me how he wasn’t thrilled by the price reduction because the drivers are the ones that actually took the hit. However, he was generally OK with it since he had choices in what service to drive (I got the impression he could jump between UberX, Lyft, and SideCar) and it also gave consumers more choice.

The last time I can recall taking UberX was back in December, on the way to a wedding. At that point in time all the UberX vehicles were TCP licensed (translation: from real limo companies). However in these most recent UberX jaunts, none of the drivers were TCP. This means to me that UberX has become very much more like Lyft/SideCar, than anything else. That isn’t a big deal to me, but I could understand a young woman not wanting to get into the back of random persons car (just the same as Lyft/SideCar).

My last anecdote about UberX comes from a trip to the airport. The pricing to/from the Airport is a flat rate of $50. Depending on where you live this might be a good deal but in my case I caught a regular, honest-to-god, cab for $35 (not including tip). So UberX may be putting up a valiant fight against the lack of cabs in San Francisco, but it isn’t ALWAYS the answer.