Car Service Apps: All About Using Uber for Ride-Sharing

2010 Chevy Equinox LTZ

When you need a ride but don’t have a car or don’t want to do your own driving, you have a few options. You could wait a while at a bus stop, or hail a cab, or you could even impose on friends or family to get you where you need to go. But here is a better idea: Use Uber.

What is Uber?

Formally called ‘Uber Technologies Incorporated,’ Uber Inc. is the fastest-growing ride-share service in the world today. Founded by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick under the name ‘Uber Cab’ in 2009, the company offers ride sharing by way of a mobile app. Tech savvy users may recognize Camp as the founder of the popular internet surprise site, StumbleUpon.

Within six years of being founded, Uber boasted ride service in 60 countries and more than 300 cities worldwide. More than one million riders use Uber every week. Based in San Francisco, the Uber company is worth an estimated $62 billion in 2016.

Uber offers several graduated tiers of service. Select UberX (the most affordable option) and your driver will take you where you want to go in a standard, four-door vehicle. Ask for Uber Black, and you will be driven about in a high-end town car. Uber SUV is just what it sounds like, while Uber LUX will get you where you’re going in a Porsche, BMW, Mercedes Benz or other luxury vehicle.

Reasons to use Uber ride-sharing service

Riders report that their top reasons for using Uber are price and convenience. Uber drivers like that they don’t have to deal with cash, they set their own work schedules, and payments are deposited into their bank accounts automatically.

All Uber cars are inspected before they are accepted to participate in the ride-sharing service. All Uber cars have at least four doors, are clean and well maintained. No smoking is allowed in Uber vehicles, whether or not they are ‘on duty.’ All Uber cars are 2005 models or newer.

Uber fares are comparable to a cab service. In many cases, Uber fares are a superior deal to any pro taxi service in town. UberX rides are especially affordable. Use Uber codes to get even bigger discounts on local rides. Uber says that they do thorough background checks on all drivers prior to accepting their application to pick up passengers via the Uber app.

Not welcome to the party

You can’t have failed to notice that Uber is not exactly welcomed with open arms by taxi drivers in cities all around the world, who have been used to the monopoly for a very long time.

A black cab in London, a yellow ride in New York — it has been the status quo for so long, until those pesky upstarts came along uninvited to the party. There have been protests, arguments and even attempts at sabotage in some cities, backed up by arguments about pricing, background checks and any other mud that could be slung Uber’s way by disgruntled taxi cab owners who have enjoyed an uncompetitive environment for many years before apps were about.

Taxi drivers in cities like London argue that their detailed knowledge of the road system makes them superior to drivers who use GPS tracking systems, but in a land of free enterprise like the U.S or many other democratic countries, the customer has the power to decide, and they will vote with their wallet as well as their app.

What is happening in the taxi industry is really no different to what we have seen in the airline industry, where an upstart dares to challenge the price equilibrium. Sometimes they get crushed by the big boys, but sometimes they become the big boys themselves, which sort of resembles where Uber is when you look at its market share and turnover achieved in a short space of time.

Many consumers like to have a choice, and choice often means competition and lower prices for us. Car-sharing apps and services were hardly likely to be welcomed by an industry that hadn’t changed much in about 100 years before they came along, but if it makes for a better and easier way of getting about town for all of us, then some would probably say, bring it on.

How to use Uber

The first thing to do is make an Uber account. You can do this from a computer, smartphone or iPad. Uber will ask for your email address, telephone number and credit card information. Complete your Uber profile with your name, choose a user language and create a password. Download the Uber app to your mobile device. Once your info is verified, using Uber is, as the company says, “as easy as tapping a button.”

When you are ready to schedule a ride, log into the Uber app and allow the service to use your GPS coordinates to determine your location. Input your destination and choose your preferred level of service. The app will provide you with a fare estimate. Accept it, and you will be shown a map of your general vicinity with icons that show the location of all currently active Uber drivers. While the driver is en route to your location, you can track where they are in the app. Once you arrive at your destination, the app calculates your fare and charges your credit card. When the transaction is complete, you may use the app to rate your driver and overall Uber experience.

Tips are not included in the Uber fare. As they work in a service oriented industry, Uber drivers depend on tips to supplement their income, so be sure to slip your driver a few bucks. They will appreciate it and may even give you a five-star rating.

Chad Fonger has been driving for ride-share companies for many years, including services such as Lyft and Uber. He strives towards sharing his experiences and helpful information with his popular comprehensive blog, which goes in-depth about the dynamic and ever-growing ride-share industry.