Sometimes people are surprised that I don't drive. Growing up in the city I never really needed to. With accessible public transit, it's been easy to get around especially during the day. But I I often go to events where I don't necessarily feel so safe travelling on public transit especially late at night. And after last TIFF season of being out until the wee hours of the morning even the cabs were obnoxious in this city....seriously, one night at 4 am I had 10 cabs reject me because they didn't want to go my direction! AAARRRGHH! Don't get me started!
In comes UBER ~ a new car service that finally meets my needs! It's safe, clean, reliable and you don't have to worry about carrying cash around with you and sorting out the tips and such!
I took the service last night to SCRUBS IN THE CITY ~ a major fundraiser for The Hospital for Sick Kids (more about this on my next post) at The Evergreen Brickworks - the location was not accessible by public transit.
Here's how UBER works:
1. Set up an account online and download the APP to your mobile device.
2. Order the car via the APP in similar timing to a cab.
3. I then get a text that confirms the order and the APP tells me where the closest car is, how long the car will take come to my destination, and who the driver is by name. It also gives me ability to call the driver directly.
The driver's photo shows up on my APP along with GPS that tracks the car en route. My car was 6 minutes away. So, sure enough the car shows up exactly at that time. I get another text informing me that my car has arrived.
Nice! A "Black Town Car" show up. Driver comes out and opens the door and greets you (yes, I'm feeling a little VIP ish at this point).
We head to the event and within probably half an hour I receive my bill by email...by the way, no cash involved and tipping is already included in the price. Nothing worse than being out and realizing that I don't have enough $$ in my wallet!
What I like about UBER is that I feel safe. On my APP I noticed that I also have this guy's license plate number and there's a rating system right on there so I can see what other riders have rated him.
I had a chance to ask Andrew MacDonald (GM) and Lucas Samuels (Community Manager) of UBER Toronto about the whole concept...
In such a big city like Toronto where we've got tons of taxi cabs, why here?
Toronto is amongst the greatest cities in the world, However, when compared to other major urban centres, we have far fewer transportation alternatives. If you were to look at Paris, for example, they have 384 subway stations for 2.2 million city residents. Toronto has 64 subway stations for 2.6 million city residents. Similarly, Paris has 15, 500 taxis, which is 7 taxis per 1000 people. Toronto has 5,000 taxis, 1.8 taxis per 1000 people In short, your best option to get around Toronto is to drive. The result of this is too many cars on limited highways, with our average commute to work being one hour!
How does it work...do you need a membership?
No membership is required to ride with UBER. You can set-up a FREE account online, or through the app itself, which is available for free from both the Apple App Store and Android Market. You can also text message a request for a pickup up if you own a BlackBerry or feature phone. Because there is never a cash transaction in an UBER (tip & tax are included in the cost of your ride), you will be asked to include credit card information upon signup. Perfect for the mom on the go!
How many cars do you currently have in your fleet?
We work tirelessly to ensure that you can always get a ride when you need one! The fleet will continue to grow with the market.
I'm thinking that your core market is urban city dweller, how about moms with kiddies like me (with or without kids) who attends lots of events, parties and don't want to drive.
UBER is everyone's private driver. If you're looking for a clean, convenient and reliable way to get around town then UBER is for you. This spans many different consumer types - and we believe we serve them all very well.
Where did the idea originate and where else is UBER?
UBER was founded by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp (who is actually a Canadian!). The idea was conceived while the two were attending a conference in Paris, and like lots of innovation of today, they thought "Wouldn't it be cool if we could get a ride at the tap of a button?!" From that thought, UBER was born, and launched in San Francisco in 2010. We've since expanded to New York City, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington DC, San Diego, Philadelphia and Paris with more to come. One of the great things about UBER is that if you find yourself in any of these cities, you can get a clean and reliable ride on the same account! (pssst!...Vancouver looks like you may be next!)
So, now you're probably wondering what the price difference is?
Via UBER last night: $27 to my destination (includes the tip - and I have set up a PROMO CODE: URBANMOMS for me and YOU ..see below)
Via regular taxi cab back home from the same destination: $32 tip in and paid by cash.
For myself, I think it's worthwhile for the reliability of the service, not needing to carry cash, cleanliness and safety. The APP is very easy to use and I like knowing who the driver is - he was very professional! I will most definitely be using them again.
Now, UBER wants YOU to try them out too! Set up your account at www.uber.com and use the PROMO CODE: URBANMOMS and they will take off $15 on a single ride. This offer is available to the first 200 people (new users only) to use the code and the offer is active until September 1, 2012.
Have fun lovelies!