Uber. Indeed.

UberWikipedia defines Uber as “denoting an outstanding or supreme example of a particular kind of person or thing” I agree.  Uber–a new service for getting a ride–is a great example of a business addressing the shortcomings of an industry.  As covered in last Sunday’s Star Tribune article, cab companies have dropped the ball.  Uber is getting push back from entrenched competitors.

The push back isn’t in the form of better service.  Rather, it’s in trying to use legal measures, lobbyists, etc. to stop Uber from entering new markets.  Uber has taken the core problems of an industry and solving the issues.

  • Wait times.   A few months ago, my wife and I waited nearly an hour for the cab (based 2.5 miles from our home) to arrive at our home.  I called the company a bunch of times.  When we got in the car, we saw the problem first hand.  When leaving our house, the dispatcher called for a car near an address which was no where near our address.  Our driver, talked to the dispatcher and said he was “almost there,” and then laughed to us saying, “that’s the way you do it.”
  • Discrimination.  As noted in the Star Tribune article, cabs discriminate. I’ve experienced it based on distance.  Around the same time as our hour-long wait time noted above, my wife and I got into a cab in St. Paul (we live a couple of miles from downtown).  As we pulled away, someone tapped the window.  The driver rolled the window down.  He asked, “Where are you going?” They said, “Bloomington.” which is about 15 miles further than our drop.  Our driver said to us, “Get out.”  We have also been declined numerous time when asked where we wanted to go, and have had to share a fare because the other people (picked up a few blocks from where we were initially picked up) were told they could just get in because they were traveling to Minneapolis.  I called the number in the cab.  They said it wasn’t in their jurisdiction.
  • Ratings.  Good for both drivers and passengers.  With Uber, both the driver and the passenger can rate the experience.
  • No $ transactions.  Over decades of traveling, I’ve run into cab drivers who “Didn’t have change” or “Couldn’t process a credit card.” With Uber, the payment and tip are all settled with your online account and there’s no transaction.
  • Extra long drives.  In first visited cities, I’m clueless.  Especially today, with two semi-toddlers, I’m not researching the “best route from airport to hotel.” The Uber app handles this with a post trip email with a map.

Uber indeed (as a disclosure, I’ve only used Uber’s service that uses vetted ‘black car’ services).