Should I Be Taking Uber When I Travel?
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
There has been a ton of press lately about Uber, the private ride-share app that circumvents a lot of traditional transportation barriers and allows ordinary folks to quickly become personal chauffeurs. But it hasn't been the smoothest ride for the company lately. Recent anti-Uber protests in Mexico and France have revealed sharp opposition to the service by local taxi drivers.
There have also been some bumps in the road legally for Uber. Recently in New York, the Taxi and Limousine Commission seized 496 vehicles associated with Uber drivers who were making illegal passenger pickups between April 29 and June 15.
Five days later on June 20, the company made an announcement that it was banning all firearms in its vehicles. This very public policy change largely stemmed from an April incident in Chicago where an Uber driver shot a man that was firing a gun at a group of people. So in light of these issues, vacationers are asking: “Should I be taking Uber when I travel?”
The first concern that needs to be addressed is safety. The truth is that you are probably as safe in an Uber as you are in any other taxi. A report came out last year from an independent think tank that stated Uber and Lyft were as safe as taking a conventional taxi.
Drivers go through a vetting process — Uber conducts background checks reaching back seven years, and passenger experiences are documented via anonymous feedback. Taxi companies will typically go back further, but with the inherent difficulty of accessing records outside of the U.S., can you really trust those checks?
Uber has an ETA sharing feature, which can alert friends and family if your trip is taking longer than expected, but is that threat enough to stop someone from abduction?
Simply put, there are pros and cons to both. Stay alert and use the buddy system (good advice in any travel situation).
Uber isn’t everywhere. But they are in 170 cities nationwide.
There are a few holdouts, thanks to regulations that are pending or passed. Las Vegas is a major non-Uber city, where there has been a constant fight with the taxi drivers over losing fares.
Portland is currently in the midst of a 120 day trial period which in comparison to their taxi competitors, is passing with flying colors. Massachusetts recently passed regulations to cover ride-share that will supersede local regulations and allow them back into places like Cambridge.
Well, conventional taxis aren’t everywhere either. And when you are talking about smaller cities, they can be few and far between, tough to find, and hard to rely on. And in the bigger cities, they aren't always cheap.
This is where the ridesharing world is going to help out the human race whether or not it sticks around for the long haul. Here is what you get with Uber or Lyft that doesn't usually come with a conventional taxi ride:
• An app to request a ride.
• A cost estimate for the ride.
• The driver’s name, license plate number, photo, and rating when my request is confirmed.
• Ability to contact the driver afterwards if I left something in the car.
• The ability to rate the driver so that others know of my experience.
• No cash and no crazy credit card fees.
• No one hounding me outside of the airport for a ride.
This is a very big deal for a lot of people and more than a few insurance agents who have told me, “You better be very careful about driving for a ride-share service.”
There are a of varied opinions about how much coverage drivers have when driving for a ride-sharing service. But how does the customer fare with all of this? Well according to Uberpeople.com, an Uber Claims Manager answered personal insurance questions, and after looking at all of their policies, this seems to be the truth: customers are covered for their ride for up to $1 million. This should cover almost all medical expenses a person should incur, so no worries there.
So typically taxis are a bit more expensive than what you are going to get with Uber. If you are going to be making many trips while at your traveling destination, it's probably still a good idea to rent a car, because even with the ride-sharing being cheaper, it will add up quickly.
What do you think about ride-sharing while you are on vacation or even at home for that matter? Let me know in the comments below.
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