Seth Says: Cabs v. Uber, When Can YOU Win?

Unless your blackberry is an actual *blackberry* you have probably heard of — and most likely taken a ride in — an Uber, DC’s newest black car service app.  The concept was a spur of the moment success when Uber launched in DC (on or about December 15, 2011), with customers queuing up Lincoln Town Car types at the flick of their finger after downloading the app for dispatch.

Sure enough, within the 5-10 minute window provided, a car comes… with a driver who opens the door for you, has free bottled water and little complimentary candies!  All for about twice the price of a cab.

Not bad when you are used to traveling in a city where the metro closes at midnight and taxis take off when you mention driving outside of District lines.

With clean and quick cars coming to you — and automatic credit card billing -what could go wrong, right?!  Well, the ‘new app on the block’ actually created a black car vs. cab rivalry (much needed, IMHO). Now cabbies are friendlier, the cars are cleaner and they almost always treat their customers with respect, well, almost.

On the contrary, Uber has started to underwhelm. In an attempt to have enough
drivers to fill demand, they began hiring any driver with enough cash to lease a
Detroit made sedan… and sacrificed on driving ability and knowledge of city streets.  So… all this to ask:

Should You Grab a Cab or Order Up an Uber? 

Bar Hopping?
Cab.  It’s cheaper and faster… and cabs no longer charge $1.50 per passenger

Getting picked up at your house in Gtown, H Street or Columbia Heights?
Uber.  It’s still a waste of time to “call a cab” in the city. ‘Uber it’ and you’ll be on
the move in minutes

In a hurry?
Cab. These new Uber drivers are often new to city driving and it shows. Stopping for every yellow light, putting every turn into Google maps, and hitting every traffic jam.

Just finished dinner?
Uber.  The app gives you an estimated wait time, so request your car accordingly and it will be waiting outside as you exit the eatery.

Not sure where this place is?
Cab.  Cabbies know the city. Uber drivers often don’t.

Out of Cash?
Uber.  Just put it on the card. Taxis are still struggling to make change.

Crossing state lines?
Cab. I haven’t read the bylaws but it seems whenever I go from DC to VA, MD to DC, or any combination of the three, in an Uber, the fare triples and a $20 ride becomes $60.  I can’t prove it, but something seems uber-fishy.

3 thoughts on “Seth Says: Cabs v. Uber, When Can YOU Win?

  1. I agree, except for the last part. I take Uber if I have to go from DC to Arlington because so many DC cab drivers refuse to cross state lines because they can’t pick up passengers in VA.

    Uber is still a much better service overall and I’m so happy it exists…but, I have to admit, sometimes I still hop in a cab for short trips or if it’s easier to flag one down versus waiting 8-10 minutes for an Uber.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Suzie! I’m with you on the short trips for cabs, and you are probably right about the Gtown to Atown trip. Being a non-driving city boy, I was taking Ubers from my place near Cap Hill to my grandmothers house in Alexandria and it was Uber-expensive! Keep reading and hit me on Facebook @ W Seth McClelland

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