TMA: Uber

New York, NY: When you look across a busy street in New York -- any street in the city, really -- you will see a spattering of yellow. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to compare a good old fashioned NYC Taxi Cab with the latest in car transportation: Uber.

Also known as my latest TMA.

Uber is a car service which you can order directly from your smart phone (and is free to download). Once you sign up, you load in your payment info and you never have to pay cash for a ride. Using the iPhone's Location Services feature, when you're ready to be picked up, you simply click on the Uber icon and it will show you where you are and where the nearest car available to pick you up is located. A few more taps and your Uber driver is on the way in a black sedan (or van, for bands or bar hoppers).

I had used the app once before in LA, but wasn't able to compare it to the cost of (and ease of) taking a cab. During this week's trip to the east coast, I was on a mission to stop by two places: Fabulous Fanny's, to research for a travel writing class (and get a new pair of glasses!), and La Petite Coquette, because they have Since the stores were situated less than a mile away from each other and approximately the same distance from my hotel (give or take a mile), I decided to take a taxi to the East Village and return via Uber.

The game plan:

Columbus Circle to Eyes: 4.4 miles
Eyes to Bras:  0.5 miles (walking in the wind)
Bras to Columbus Circle: 3.1 miles

Taxi Trip:

Waiting Time: 30 seconds (hailed by the hotel bellman)

Travel Time: 30 mins.

Fare: $20 + $4 tip = $24 

Taxi Decor: The taxi was more of a SUV, though my knees were hitting the passenger seat -- and I'm only 5'2". The seats were worn, but the taxi itself was fairly clean.

Driver Disposition: The driver did not talk at all after he asked where I was going. Instead, he turned on a pop radio station - fairly loud - for the entire trip. Luckily, Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" was the perfect soundtrack to this true New York moment.

The Ride: Holy bumpy ride, batman! I'm pretty sure my driver was on a mission to hit every pothole along the way. Though, he did manage to swerve around one... and almost hit a pedestrian instead.

Saying Our Goodbyes: I could pay with a credit card on the screen in front of me (after I moved my knees away from the back of the seat). I was able to add in tip (20% / 25% / 30% or ladies' choice) and the driver gave me a small printed receipt... which I promptly lost. 

Uber Trip:

Waiting Time: 2 minutes

I requested my Uber car at 5:21pm and was told it would be there in four minutes. Two minutes later, I received a text saying my Uber car had arrived and a black sedan pulled up in front of the store. 

Travel Time: 24 minutes

Fare: $25 (everything included)

There is an option of comparing the Uber sedan, UberX sedan and Uber van. According to the driver, the UberX is just an older model sedan, which costs approximately $5 less than the more current Uber sedan. 

Uber Decor: Though I chose the older (and cheaper) UberX model, the sedan seemed no different than any other sedan I might have gotten into. (I did, however, not look in the trunk for any suspicious evidence…). It’s seats were also slightly worn, but somehow the black leather worn seats made it feel fancier.

Driver Disposition: The friendly driver (who also gets rated by his passengers on the Uber website, post-trip) was very talkative about where I was from, what I was doing there, how did I like it, etc. I’m only glad he didn’t ask about my most recent purchase.

The Ride: The NY streets did not become any less bumpy in between rides but being in a sedan was a definitely more comfortable than taxi SUV. And I was able to stretch my legs out almost all the way. Which was good after a long day of tiring glasses and bra shopping.

Saying Our Goodbyes: Once we arrived at the hotel, he hit ‘end trip’ on his iPhone screen and my total -- $25 flat – appeared and was instantly emailed to me. The receipt now rests safely in my newly created “Uber” folder.

Overall, the service seemed very competitive to taking a taxi. Granted, the comparative distances were slightly off, but personally, I don't mind paying a few extra bucks for a ride in comfort. Physical and mental.

The Uber app is not available in all cities yet, but my suggestion is that when you’re in a Uber-friendly city, try it out for yourself and see how it compares to ol’ yellow. Here’s a promotional for 10% off which you can use on your first Uber ride:

(or go HERE)

Turns out new uber apps sometimes comes with sweet uber deals.