So you may wonder why we’re dedicating a post to Uber. Who hasn’t USED Uber, let alone hasn’t HEARD of it?? Well, sadly, there are less fortunate souls that live in less populated (or more technologically resistant) cities (I’m looking at you, New Orleans) that still do not have the luxury of ordering rides from our smartphones. Uber currently operates in 41 countries and 86 U.S. cities, but New Orleans is not one of them.
Instead, we are forced to keep United Cab in our favorites list and dial its number over and over again until a dispatcher (yes, these are still a thing) answers, takes our information, and then assures us that a cab is on the way. Well, not only is the entire process a bad flashback to the mid-90’s that I liken to using a payphone to try to reach my Mom to get a ride home from school, but the chance that said cab ACTUALLY arrives is about the same as Don Draper staying faithful or consuming less than five drinks on any given work day (I’m currently binge watching Mad Men so Jon Hamm is on my mind).
In other words, us New Orleanians are often left stranded and sweating on street corners throughout the city. Where do these cabs go “missing?” Your guess is as good as mine. To add to the nonsense, even if a cab does miraculously make it to you, I’ve had them drive off because my destination apparently isn’t “convenient” enough, they oftentimes have no idea where my destination is (even when it’s on a well-known street), and their credit card machines “mysteriously” never work so those of us that are allergic to carrying cash are SOL.
Enter Uber. The “on-demand” car service that Chicagoans, Manhattanites, and Bay Area folk have been enjoying for years. How it works:
- Download Uber’s app to your smartphone (iPhone, Android).
- Enter a credit card that is then stored on file.
- When you need a lift, you open up the app. Your phone’s GPS will locate you, show you Uber drivers that are nearby, and then give you the option to enter your destination. You can get a fare estimate (pricing is clear and accurate). You can also get driver ETA (gives you driver’s name/picture, make/model of the car, and their reviews).
- Request the ride, and then follow your friendly, neighborhood Uber car on the little Google Map and wait for it to arrive.
- Enjoy your ride.
- Upon arriving at your destination, your credit card is automatically billed, you receive a detailed email receipt within minutes, and you are given the option to leave a review for the driver.
Getting a ride is literally as easy as tapping the screen on your smartphone.
I recently used UberX in Austin, TX and it was fantastic. 100% reliable, and the fares were CHEAPER than a yellow cab. For those of you that live in cities where there are cabs-a-plenty Uber may seem unnecessary, but again, if you’ve ever experienced the frustration of NEEDING a cab and simply not being able to get one, Uber is a godsend. The flexibility of essentially having a private driver at your fingertips is one of those times in life where you don’t realize how great something is until you try it – and then you wonder how you ever lived without it.
If you have Uber in your city and haven’t tried it, I would recommend giving it a shot. I’m a sucker for pretty apps, and the app itself is kinda a thing of beauty. And dare I say fun to use. If you don’t yet have Uber in your city, cross your fingers that eventually the decision makers come to their senses and let the free market determine who will ultimately win your community’s cab fare dollars. I know many cab drivers work extremely hard and I don’t want to see people lose their jobs (I believe Uber has the opposite effect anyway), but I think the system is broken, and these types of “regulated” monopolies are never a good thing for citizens.
To show y’all what the Uber app looks like and give you a visual of how it works, I’ve included some screenshots of Friday’s #UBERICECEAM promotion (that OF COURSE I took advantage of). Combined with yesterday’s National Ice Cream Day it only seemed appropriate. Even though we don’t technically have Uber (yet), because the company is actively pursuing New Orleans we were included in the event (yay!). Basically, instead of a “ride on demand,” Friday was “ice cream on demand,” – delivered by Uber in a real-life ice cream truck. I got five ice cream bars and a mug – four of which I generously passed out to my coworkers (but make no mistake, if I had a mini-freezer in my office I would have hoarded them ALL).
Uber has faced resistance in many of the cities it has entered, and is still trying to enter – Google “Uber controversy” and you’ll have a day’s worth of reading on your hands. That’s a debate for another day. Right now I’m just a girl in NOLA that would love to be able to get a reliable ride to the airport, back from the French Quarter at 2 am, or out to my favorite little Bywater wine bar. New Orleans has been a tough nut for Uber to crack, and on Tuesday morning they actually have another Transportation Committee Hearing with the New Orleans City Council where a vote will be cast on whether or not Uber will be allowed to operate in the city.
As a current Uber user, I received the email below – but current user or not, anyone is welcome to attend and support Uber’s efforts to serve New Orleans – should be interesting.
SUPPORT UBER NOLA
We need your voice. On Tuesday, July 22nd the New Orleans City Council is holding a vote that will determine the future of Uber in your city. In its current form, the proposed ordinance would allow UberBLACK to operate in New Orleans, but only with minimum fares of $25.
Think about that for a moment. Uber’s technology has revolutionized the way riders and drivers connect, with affordable fares and average pickup times under ten minutes. However, the proposal in front of the City Council would stipulate an artificial increase in the price of your ride.
We’re excited to get up and running in New Orleans because we know that expanding your transportation choices will open doors for riders and provide economic opportunity for drivers. Every year, the Uber platform creates 240,000 jobs globally and generates $2.8 billion of revenue for the US economy.
But unless the City Council amends the ordinance, we won’t be able to bring this kind of desperately needed change to New Orleans. If you’re committed to moving New Orleans forward with improved transportation and economic growth, stand with us and contact the City Council:
This is a critical moment for Uber in New Orleans — we’re counting on you.
P.S. Interested in turning out at the City Council on Tuesday to show your support? Click here to RSVP — we’ll have t-shirts & other Uber swag ready for you.
Transportation Committee Hearing Details
WHO: Uber advocates like you!
WHAT: Attend the hearing to show your support for Uber in NOLA
WHEN: 10am, Tuesday 7/22/14
WHERE: City Council Chambers, City Hall (1300 Perdido St)