Uber in Westerly; Is it For Me?

About five months ago, I set out to see if I could leave my car parked in my driveway and just get around town using Uber.  Uber you say?  Are they even in Westerly?  I heard they weren’t safe.  It’s expensive.

Those were just some of the questions and comments I heard when I told people what I was doing.

Firstly, for those who don’t know, Uber is a ride sharing app that connects drivers to users via their smartphones.  It is similar to a taxi service, except for a few differences.  The drivers don’t need to be a licensed cab company, all payments are done through the app – no cash exchanges hands, drivers use their personal cars to give rides.  For the full explanation of Uber, visit their website >>> Uber.com

I started at the beginning of the year.  I didn’t do any research into how the service worked – I wanted to see how the user experience actually was from app download to first ride drop-off.

The app was easy to download – just go to your respective app store and download & install the Uber app.  From there, just follow the on-screen instructions to setting up your account, adding a credit card, adding frequently used directions, etc.

So here I am…ready to order my first Uber.  I have to admit, using cutting edge technology for the first time is exciting and waiting for my first Uber was something that I thought I would never do!

Following directions via the app I enter the address of where I want to go and “Request Uber”.  Fairly simple and straight forward.  Now I just sit back and wait for someone to pick up my ride OR ping to use Uber slang!  The app does it’s thing with moving lines and little cars (keeping my mind occupied whilst waiting to be accepted into the cult!)

My request is picked up by a driver and Uber informs me of his name, rating, what type of car he’s driving and of course, a picture of him.  Uber also let’s me know where the driver is via a map and how long it will take for them to get to my address.  So far, so good.

It’s pretty cool to see the car driving towards my address via the map overlay and the constant feedback insures that my first ride will be an enjoyable experience.

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The car arrives, and being trained from using cabs for so many years, I sit in the backseat.  Tip: when the driver arrives greet them using their name and ask them if they mind if you sit in the front seat.  Most drivers won’t mind and it makes for a better experience.

My driver is a good host – seriously!  He had bottles of water and mints for his riders!  Nice touch, and not all drivers do this, but it definitely has made my experience that much better.  He’s talkative and informative and after talking for a few minutes, realize that he is fairly new to driving Uber as well.

I wanted to stop for a coffee on the way, but wasn’t sure how Uber would charge me for that.  My driver informed me that “Uber knows all!  When the car is stopped the meter kicks on and charges for time.”  This insures that the drivers are compensated correctly for their time and Uber gets their cut as well.

After the coffee, I arrive at my destination and the app takes care of payment!  No exchanging of cash or credit cards and Uber takes care of everything behind the scenes.

My take on Uber is a resounding YES!  Below are a few pointers to keep in mind while using Uber in Westerly:

  • my average wait time was around 10 mins – you have a smartphone with you
  • don’t make the driver wait – you also have a rating and one that is too low will result in driver skipping over your ping
  • after 8pm in Westerly is extremely hit or miss
  • the best times in the morning were between 8am and noon
  • afternoon and evening best times were 3pm to 8pm
  • plan accordingly – take the rides when you can get them; order early and be prepared for no cars sometimes

Over the past 5 months I used Uber at least 5 times per week, twice a day.  That was 10 rides per week and my average ride charge was around $9.  That works out to roughly $360 per month for Uber.  That may sound like a lot, but listen to my logic.  According to NerdWallet:

What is the real cost of owning a car?

The average monthly loan payment for new cars in the fourth quarter of 2014 was $482, according to researcher Experian Automotive. But that $482 isn’t the whole cost to own that car — far from it.

For an average vehicle that’s driven 15,000 miles a year, all costs of ownership added up to $8,698 a year, according to AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs study. That’s about $725 a month.

Costs vary by type of vehicle. Small sedans had an average annual cost of $6,729, or $561 a month, while a four-wheel-drive SUV cost $10,624, or $885 a month, according to AAA. So the SUV would cost you 58% more on an ongoing basis.

Read the whole article here >>> NerdWallet.com

So the average monthly cost of vehicle ownership is $725 per month!  That’s a lot of money if you ask me, and well you kind of did ask me if you’re reading this article.  Now, with that being said, you can’t attach a monetary value to your freedom – like getting in your car and going where you want at any time of day.

While getting rid of your ride may not work for you at all, adding Uber to your life could save you some headaches.  Buy a cheap car for getting around town and running daily errands, then use Uber for your longer trips where comfort matters to you.

If you were thinking of getting rid of your car and using Uber, I’m hear to let you know you can do it if you want to.  I did it for 5 months!

In my next article, I’ll let you in on all of the tips and tricks I use to make my Uber experience just a little better.

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