The City of Calgary was abuzz with the long-anticipated arrival of Uber yesterday, so I decided to take an Uber ride to an evening appointment. I’ve taken many Uber rides in multiple U.S. cities during my travels and I was curious to make the comparison. So if you’re a Calgarian that’s wondering about this new phenomenon, maybe my experience can be of help.
October 15th, day one of the Calgary Uber takeover, just before 7:00pm: I took an UberX (the only car type currently available) a distance of 3.75 kilometers, with a trip time of 9 minutes and 44 seconds for a total of $10.79. How do they calculate this fee? According to my emailed receipt: a base fare of $2.75 coupled with a distance of 3.75 km and time of 2.43 minutes gave me the subtotal of $8.94. Add their “Safe Ride Fee” of $1.85 and there you have it. Uber describes their safe ride fee as including “among other things, a background check process, motor vehicle checks, driver safety education and development of safety features in the app.”
I opted to sit in the front seat both ways so I could better engage with the drivers and conduct my examination, I mean, ask questions. Driver #1 was on time, extremely friendly and his car was spotless. He told me that I was his 6th ride of the day. He basically gave up on using his GPS and he had a few issues while driving. This left me a little concerned as to whether there would be a lot of drivers like that. For example, he seemed confused by the new neon turning lane signs on traffic lights, he said he’d never seen them before and found them confusing. Slightly concerning, especially to someone in my field.
500 Uber Drivers in Calgary, 1,000 More Coming
The friendliness and cleanliness was so welcome that I simply continued on with the conversation. I asked him why he had no Uber sign displayed and he said that aside from the possibility of a fine, he was worried about the cab drivers’ reactions. He did have his Uber sales pitch down though: It’s 30% cheaper than a cab, competition is a good thing, it’s good for the city, and people appreciate that the quickest route is standard instead of the ol’ scenic route. I would tend to agree, and it doesn’t sound like they’re going anywhere anytime soon. He told me that in addition to the 500 drivers on the road yesterday, another 1000 had already registered, and that aside from the standard UberX cars now on the road, other types were on their way. It seems like a good deal for him as well. When I asked him what made him decide to drive for Uber he told me it was just a way to make a few extra bucks, and that Uber guarantees them $20/hour. Seems like a win/win for both of us then.
I’ve personally taken over 40 Uber rides in New York, Dallas, Nashville, Seattle and now Calgary. I’ve been in UberX, UberXL, UberSelect and UberBlack, and for the most part I loved them all. You generally get a newer car, well-kept with a very nice driver. The only time I really had a bad experience was in Dallas.
How Uber Works in Calgary and Beyond
For anyone who doesn’t know how the service works, you download the app and sync your credit card with it. This means no fumbling for cash and tips upon arrival, you just exit the vehicle. When you open the app to request a ride you see what cars are available in the vicinity and select one. You will see the picture of the person who is coming, what kind of vehicle they are in and their license number. You even have the opportunity to call or text them if needed. You can track their progress via GPS before they arrive. When I was in Dallas the guy showed up in a different vehicle with a different license plate, there was an odd aroma in the car and there were no seat belts! I’ll leave out the part about a lawsuit waiting to happen in that scenario. But the opportunity to rate your experience and give feedback makes up for these rare occurrences in my opinion. Overall I’m glad to have an extra option for travel in my hometown.
Uber seems to be doing something right
I hope my pleasant experience in Calgary was a sign of things to come. I was glad to see that the trip cost almost exactly the same both ways. I was already signed up for the app so I was unable to take advantage of their promotion for new signups where you can get some free rides. But you do get your own personal referral code where you and your friends can get free rides when someone signs up and uses the service. Don’t worry, I’m not posting mine here to stock up on free rides. I just find it interesting as a lifelong Calgarian, frequent traveler and businessman. Whatever your stance on the service, Uber seems to be doing something right.
So many people had questions about my Uber experiences that I decided to share them with you in my first contributing blog post for Litwiniuk & Company. I hope you enjoyed it. Many have also asked what the legal implications will be should these vehicles become involved in accidents. For more information on that please see our previous blog post.
Have you used Uber before? What do you think of the service? Leave a comment please.
Todd Litwiniuk graduated from the University of Calgary with a degree in Political Science in 1991, and obtained his Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Wales in 1994. He was called to the bar by the Law Society of Alberta in 1995, and began working at Litwiniuk & Company, he is now Managing Partner. In over 20 years of practice, Todd has focused on Catastrophic Injury and Fatality claims, Occupiers’ Liability, Product Liability, and Motor Vehicle Accidents, although he also has experience in many other areas of the law. He is a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), and a volunteer for the SAIT Legal Assistant Program Advisory Committee (PAC). When he’s not negotiating on behalf of Litwiniuk & Company’s clients, Todd enjoys hockey, billiards, and weightlifting. Todd is also an avid golfer.