Taxis aren’t commonplace in Lake Charles, as they are in bigger cities. These days, I’m seeing more and more cabs around town, as this economic surge arrives in Southwest Louisiana; but in cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and many others, there’s a new way for people to get a ride.
Maybe you’ve heard of Uber, and if you haven’t, I’ll be happy to let you know my experiences with this mobile-app-based transportation network.
I’d heard about Uber online, and from friends in larger cities that started using the app-based ride service as a “designated driver” for when they went out and planned to drink. Friends who travel for business lauded Uber’s ease of use, and its availability for a ride at nearly any time they needed one.
I downloaded the app to see what the fuss was all about, but imagine my surprise when I discovered Lake Charles isn’t available for Uber.
My first chance to try Uber for myself was during a trip to New York City. Flying into Newark, but staying in Manhattan, I knew that I’d be needing a lift to the hotel. As I waited in baggage claim, I opened up the app, and I redeemed a code that a friend had posted that gave me a $20 credit on my first ride. With Uber, you link a method of payment with the app, so that your fares are instantly charged to that account. I linked mine to PayPal, but major cards are also accepted.
Once my payment was linked, I set about finding a ride. Uber geolocates your location, but also leaves you the option of setting your pickup location at a different address. I requested an Uber car, and it quickly located and identified a driver that accepted the fare.
The app displayed the driver’s name, contact information to call or text them, and even the music I wanted to hear when I got in the car, courtesy of Spotify.
This being my first time as an Uber rider, I went ahead and called the driver to confirm where I was to be picked up, and my destination. By the time I got outside with my bags, the Uber car, a late model Toyota Avalon, was waiting. The driver hopped out, helped with the bags, and off we went to the hotel.
On the way, I had a chat with our driver about his experiences with Uber, and he seemed quite content with the pay structure they provided. I have another friend in Austin that drives for Uber, and he, too, makes a decent wage driving his own vehicle for Uber. Once we arrived at the hotel, I went to tip the driver, but he waved it off, and asked that I use the app for that. I complied, and used Uber over a dozen times during my stay in the Big Apple.
Since then, I’ve used Uber in a handful of cities, and have not a single complaint. The cars are always clean, the drivers polite, and the rides more than affordable. When you hear about Uber in the news, it’s in some city in which local government opposes the easy-to-use rider service, some cabbies blocking traffic in an effort to protest Uber, or some horror story about a driver kidnapping some unsuspecting Uber rider.
To these tales, I say hogwash. When you hear about Uber from people who actually use it, it’s quite a different tale. I hope that my tale helps you to give Uber a try the next time you need a ride. Use my promo code (uber.com/invite/32a0x), and you’ll even get a $20 credit when you sign up.