Recently eclektech and I decided to take a trip to Austin, TX for a Comic Con Convention in Downtown Austin. We made a reservation at a new Residence Inn (University Area) about 5 miles from the Convention Center Downtown as many hotels in the Downtown area were sold out or overpriced due to the Austin City Music Festival taking place at the same time. I was a little concerned about driving downtown as some streets were closed and finding parking. When researching transportation options between our hotel and downtown I came across several positive reviews of the Uber Service.
What is Uber? Its a smart-phone application that connects you to local residents who will give you rides in their private car. At first I thought this service sounded risky and sketchy. But the more I read the positive reviews about the service the more I wanted to give it a try. There are different levels of the Uber Service you can choose which include normal everyday cars (Uber X), high end sedans (Uber Black), sport utility vehicles (Uber SUV), and luxury cars (Uber Lux). Each transaction is cash less and payment is processed through either a credit card or paypal account linked to your Uber profile with tips included.
Our first attempt with Uber did not work out well. I opened the application and set my pickup location and destination. The Uber Application then assigned me a driver and provided me with his name, photo, and car description and an estimated pickup time of 6 minutes. About 25 minutes go by and the driver was still a no show so I canceled the transaction on my phone and called a cab which arrived within 10 minutes.
When we were ready to head back to the hotel I decided to give Uber another try. This time when I opened the application I noticed there were multiple Uber cars showing on the map where we were located unlike before when we were at the hotel about 5 miles from downtown. So after I established our pickup location and destination our Uber Driver named Allen was there in less than 3 minutes to pick us up. Allen was very friendly and got us quickly to our hotel. The cost of the ride would have been $13.80 but because I signed up using a promo code ($30 credit towards first ride) the ride was free. The cost of the earlier cab ride from our hotel to Downtown was $17.63.
The next day I decided to give Uber another try from our hotel to downtown. This time I noticed there were two Uber Cars showing on the map near our hotel unlike the previous day when most all of the Uber cars were in the downtown area. This time our Uber driver who showed up within 5 minutes was named Ruth and she was very friendly and enjoyable to talk to. She told us some history of the local area and we discovered that she went to college in Harrisonburg, VA which is about 30minutes from our home. The cost of our ride with Ruth was $18.87 which was $1.24 higher than the cab we took the day before.
So I do have to admit I enjoyed using the Uber service while in Austin and would definitely consider it again on future travel. As you can see the pricing can be cheaper or higher than using a cab. The things I really like about Uber is that it is cash less, you get a description of the driver and able to track on a map where the driver is and how soon they will be arriving, and the drivers seems to be friendlier than typical cab drivers. After each transaction you also get to rate your driver. However my advice is if you do not see a Uber Driver nearby your location on the map you may want to call a cab instead as we ended up doing with our first attempt.
Uber offers lots promotions that equals free rides. If you refer someone new to Uber both you and the person who referred you gets a free ride up to $30. Here is a referral link: https://get.uber.com/invite/scottl737
Also if you link your American Express Card to Uber you can get a $10 Statement Credit for using Uber. Just log into your American Express account online and look for the Uber Offer which is valid through 12/31/14.