August 14, 2014

This idea is so Genius!

I really think so.  I'm talking about my recent discoveries: Uber and Lyft.   I swear I must have been living under a rock.  In the same world you and I live in everyday, you'd fit into one of these two categories: folks that wallow in self pity and complain about their lot in life, or those who come up with brilliant ideas and hence, their meal ticket.
Photo credit: Uber
I read an article recently about the legalizing of a ride share system in the city of Houston, this concept would not be new.  Turns out this had been well established in cities like Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston and New York where they operate legally none the less, however, the taxi cab companies in Houston have fought tooth-and-nail against it—till now.

What's the concept behind Uber and Lyft?  Quite simple.  It's like a reliable friend you can call to pick you up after a night of one too many drinks, or if you cab a lot.  Unlike the taxis, you enjoy interesting conversations of your favorite childhood memories and latest game scores, you could even be offered a tall glass of cold drink in the interim.  Unlike the stiff taxi cab ride, these ride shares are designed to be more of a social experience, passengers are encouraged to sit in the front and make small talk on Lyft, drivers get creative, adorning their cars, dressing up in costumes stacking up on treats for passengers.  You'd be picked up in a very nice ride—in a vehicle at least 2000 model year or newer, unlike those stinky cabs.  A ride request comes in 5 minutes or less.  Just like the X Men living amongst us, unknown to humans, the App has a live interactive map showing all drivers in close proximity—they're everywhere!  A match is seen approaching your destination in real time.  You'd see your match's picture profile as well as the vehicle, with detail on make model of car.
Now that App ride sharing is legal, there'd be a lot more pink mustaches, thanks to Lyft.  Photo courtesy of CNN.
Nice concept right?  Yes and for a fee. Install the app from the App Store, sign up with payment card. On average, it's 25% less the fare on Taxis with Lyft and approx 35% with Uber.  No money is ever exchanged during your ride, so literally, you're picked up and dropped off, just like any friend would do, which means you don't have to sit there doing the math in your head of how much would be the appropriate tip.  I love the fact that you get to rate the driver and the driver rates you post ride.  Any driver/passenger rating three stars or less would not be matched again, they may not even ride or pick up again, so that means, you've got to be nice, enforcing good customer service, we all get a lot of that in cabs these days...  Right?  

Is safety an issue? Always.  Uber and Lyft drivers undergo background checks, which means, although anyone of driving age with a license can literally do it, chances are you will not be able to without a clean record.  You also need appropriate insurance.  For some of us always interested in side gigs, becoming a partner can make you as much as $35 an hour.  Uber drivers have reported taking home $900 - $1300 per week (no joke).  You'd basically have to decide how much you're willing to put in time making new friends, discovering parts of Houston you've never been to before (and running up the milage on your car... *winks).  Uber can be requested in the following categories: UberX for sedans, UberXL for SUVs, Black Car for Limos.
This guy proudly holds up his Uber App.  Interactive map shows drivers in close proximity in real-time.
I couldn't help but wonder what this means for the Taxi cab companies.  It's got to be bad for business.  They'd have to re-write their business model.  For them to survive, they have to learn to welcome change and get with the times.  So far they don't welcome it, one of them even told me Uber is more expensive than Taxis "Uber is bad news for the city." The real concern is these drivers didn't go through stringent rules to obtain a Taxi cab license, or abide by city regulations; they can't call themselves taxi drivers, yet they make money just like them.  The resistance is understandable when you're about to loose big time on the means to your livelihood.

On my first ride on Uber, I also wondered what it'd mean if more people knew about the service, wouldn't everyone want to join the bad wagon?  It turns out even though it just became legal, people had been on to it for months now.  Currently in San Francisco where this had be on for a few years, demand continue to outweigh supply, not everyone is interested in putting so much milage, wear and tear on their vehicles.  So chances are, there's enough passengers to go around especially now that it has gained public acceptance.

Wanna know more?  Check out their websites.  Interested in catching a ride?  Try Uber or Lyft today, use the following code: jacquelinea51 during Uber's Summer special and get $30 off your first ride.  Want to get $25 off your first Lyft?  Let me know.

Thanks for reading.
I appreciate you.

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