So let’s say it’s raining a little and it’s late and, yes, you could take the subway and an hour or so later get home (if your city even has a subway) but you’ve worked hard to get to a place where you can afford this, so — since you haven’t spent $400 to hire a limo for the night (please tell me you have not!) — you pull out your smart phone, touch the Uber app, whether in New York or LA or London or Phoenix or Boston or Paris or Philly or wherever, and it sees where you are and tells you that a “black car” is 4 minutes away. (Unless there are a bunch of you and you prefer an SUV.) You say okay, and it tells you the name of the driver and his/her license plate and shows you the position of the car relative to yours and you watch as it draws near. As it does, you also have the option of calling the driver to explain that you’ll be standing out in front of Wicked Willies, by which time you’ll have retrieved your coat and said good-bye to your friends and actually be standing outside and — look at that! — up drives your car, you hop in, say where you’re going, and hop out when you get there. Uber already has your credit card. A couple of minutes later you see the receipt on your phone. This ride took 15 minutes and 7 seconds, spanned 4.26 miles, and cost you $27 including tip, or about $7 more than a cab would have cost if you had been able to find one in the rain.
I love Uber. No sign-up fee, no monthly minimum — and even a little “green” in the sense that the 2,000 or so cars it has on call in New York (for example) are cars that used to spend a lot of their time empty, idling their motors, in between jobs. Now, the vehicles — and their drivers — have a much higher ratio of productive time, when they’re taking people where they want to go.
I don’t own a car, which saves me perhaps $10,000 a year (parking, insurance, gas, and the amortized cost of the car itself), so to me, the occasional $27 Uber fee is not hard to justify.
Tomorrow: even more substantive matters.