“…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

January rambling #1: Tower of Terror

50 Years Ago, the Wah-Wah Pedal Was Born

2016: The Movie

First BLOTUS Press Conference, Annotated

‘Gaslighting’ all of us

FLATUS Dossier Spotlights Russian History of ‘Kompromat’ – Diplomats, politicians and bureaucrats have been embarrassed by leaks of compromising material

The body language of FLATUS, and the 20 best nicknames; are you sorry yet?

FLATUS plan to keep his business is national embarrassment

How Populism Goes Bad

Gun silencers are hard to buy. Donald Trump Jr. and silencer makers want to change that
Continue reading “January rambling #1: Tower of Terror”

U is for Uber-less Albany

Uber, and Lyft, can operate in New York City, but in upstate New York cities such as Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, insurance laws make it difficult to get coverage for drivers.

An article in March 2016 appeared in the local business journal: Schenectady sauce maker, frustrated with ‘apologizing’ for Albany’s cabs, calls for Uber upstate.

“Adine Viscusi [co-owner of Casa Visco] easily takes planes, trains and Ubers to get from the airport to hotels and bodegas when she attends national trade shows. In Albany, she can barely catch a cab… Viscusi said she doesn’t normally take cabs in Albany, but a recent trip from the Amtrak station in Rensselaer has made her a vocal critic.

“‘The cab was a 25-year-old mini van with ripped seats. There was a pack of Newports and Axe in the console. The door on one side didn’t open,’ Viscusi said. ‘It was so embarrassing. To travel so seamlessly from planes, trains, Uber and rental car. You get to Albany and it’s grinding to a halt. It’s like welcome to the 80s.'” Continue reading “U is for Uber-less Albany”