Last week I was in San Diego for 10 days for a training course (and a couple of days holidays added to the end). I had originally planned to use day passes on public transport to get around, but it turned out that the websites painted a nicer picture of the public transport system than it was in reality and it started at the airport when the “promised” facility to buy their equivalent of a LEAP card could just not be found.
So right after arrival we had to change our plans and the options were either Taxi or Uber. The distance from the airport was about 8 miles. With a taxi that would be $24, with Uber it was $16. Not a bad start! And it just continued like that! We did about 10 Uber Trips altogether and had not a single bad experience. All drivers were extremely friendly, some were chatty, some not. All drove well and responsible and all had other jobs and only did a few hours of Uber driving per day or per week. Not once did we have to wait longer than 4 minutes until we were picked up and not once did a driver take “the scenic route” or tried to use any other trick to increase the fare (because they can’t!!).
If you don’t know how Uber operates let me explain it briefly: Uber drivers are private car owners who only need their mobile phone to become an Uber driver. When you book an Uber trip, the customer specifies the start and end point on an app and is told the full price in advance (the driver can’t change it and there are NO surcharges). The app for the driver is a SatNav system and tells the driver exactly how to get to the destination, so the driver just needs to follow the instructions. At the end of the trip you don’t pay by cash or card, instead the app sorts out all payments from your credit card to the driver. So you thank the driver and leave the car. A completely cashless system.
It is just brilliant! BUT we don’t have it and if the National Transport Authority (NTA) is not reigned in soon, they will not allow us to have Uber. Why? Because they are protecting the overpriced and regulated Taxi business. Taxis are outdated and Taxi regulation is harming, not helping customers.
You might say/think that we have Uber in Ireland, but it is a bastardised version of the proper Uber. In Ireland only licensed Taxi drivers are allowed to transport passengers for money, so Uber is just the middle man that connects you with a taxi driver via the app. It has some features of the proper Uber system because you make the contact by app, but the app doesn’t tell you what the price will be and the price is NO different than the normal taxi price. So, Uber in Ireland is not Uber and that is all thanks to the National Transport Authority (NTA).
I think the idea of Uber is brilliant and – without a doubt – it will be the private transport model that will outlive the regulated taxi industry. And in a few years we will look back and wonder “Why, oh Why did we stick to this completely outdated taxi model for such a long time when we easily could have moved to a more modern model?” Yep, I Know, it sometimes feels like living behind the moon! :-O