“…every time you ride with Uber”

I downloaded Lyft, which worked just fine. I knew so because my credit card company wanted to confirm that the $1.00 “purchase” I made was legit.

uberOne more thing I did on my birthday (March 7): I took an Uber for the very first time. Technically, it was the 8th. And as is my wont, it was more complicated than I thought it would be.

I would be returning from my trip from New York City to attend my friend Karen’s retirement party. Since the event was on 26th Street from 7-10 p.m., I had two practical choices. Taking the train, I needed to get to Penn Station at 34th Street, but the bus was at Grand Central at 42nd Street.

I’m not subway-averse – I even had my Metrocard swiper with me – but I opted to walk the shorter distance. The Amtrak is more expensive, especially the later you book it, but it would get back to Albany at 1:15 a.m. as opposed to the 2:30 a.m. Greyhound.

Well, not exactly Albany in the former case, but Rennselaer, which is across the Hudson River. While there were taxis at both venues, because of greatly disappointing results, I haven’t taken a cab in the Capital Region this century. (I’ve taken a couple in NYC, but not in my town.)

Hey, maybe the taxis are better now? Not according to the rider reviews I discovered for the one company assigned to the Rensselaer train station. This left Uber and Lyft.

I attempted to download the Uber app, but it didn’t seem to “take”; it never showed up as an icon on the phone. So I downloaded Lyft, which worked just fine. I knew so because my credit card company wanted to confirm that the $1.00 “purchase” I made was legit.

But I discovered in trying to book a ride on the train back that, at least where I wanted to go, nothing was available from Lyft between midnight and 7 a.m.

So I played with the previously downloaded functions on my phone, and I DID have Uber after all, just not on the main screen. I booked the ride. When I got to the train station, I looked for the correct license plates – there were a half dozen Uber drivers at that hour, and several cabs to boot.

Normal Fare-$8.69 Surge x1.3-$2.61 (I know vaguely what surge fees are) + Booking Fee $2.40 (that surprised me) + Long Pickup Fee $0.60 (somehow my address was NOT in the system, though I THOUGHT I’d put it in) + NY State Black Car Fund (2.5%) $0.34 + TNC Assessment Fee (4%) $0.42 (whatever THEY are) = $14.30 plus tip. Not terrible.

So now I’m all 21st century, enough to get an email about a month later from the company. “Check your ride, every time.” Specifically:
1.Match the license plate number.
2.Match the car make and model.
3.Check the driver’s photo. (I did that too)
“When you’ve confirmed this information, get in, buckle up, and enjoy the ride. At Uber, your safety is important to us.”

This was undoubtedly the reaction to a young woman in South Carolina getting into a car, thinking it was her Uber – the guy wasn’t one of their drivers – and was killed.

Another tip, not on the list, but mentioned by law enforcement after the murder, is to ask the driver to tell you YOUR name before getting into the vehicle.

For ABC Wednesday