Los Angeles Vacation: My First Experiences With Uber

Today I’ll talk about using Uber for the first time. For those of you who do not know what a Uber is, it’s basically a ride sharing service and an app for a smart phone is required to use it. More information can be found on the Uber website.

 I’ve had the Uber app on my phone for several months in the hopes that the Marinette-Menominee area
(where I live) would have it. I even heard rumors about Uber coming to my area. But the rumors turned out to be untrue.

Still, I left the app on my phone even before I booked my Los Angeles trip because it would be nice to have if I was out of town visiting cities that has Uber. Once my trip to LA was confirmed, I knew the app would be useful.

The first time I used Uber, it was on Tuesday, July  18. I was not scheduled to see my family until later that evening. I had the day to myself, so I decided to do some hiking. I had Will Rogers State Park on my to-do list almost from the day that I booked this vacation. More on my day on Will Rogers Park on a future post.

I looked at the Uber app on my phone and read the FAQ’s so I can understand how to use it. I then went outside of my hotel and waited by the entrance. I fired up the Uber app and looked at the app. I was like, wow. There are several Ubers driving around in the vicinity of my hotel. On the map, they are represented by little icons of a vehicle driving around the map. I thought that was cool and I regret not getting a screen shot of the map.

I picked my destination as Will Rogers State Park and picked my pickup point as my hotel. I then chose the standard Uber Ride and sent in my request. The app immediately told me it is looking for a nearby driver. About 30 seconds later, a driver was located and is on its way. And within 2-3 minutes, the Uber pulled up. I was impressed. I’m so used to waiting 30 minutes to an hour back home for a taxi. 

The Uber driver took me to Will Rogers park and dropped me off by the visitors center at the park. The ride was about 11-12 miles and took about a half hour through the crowded LA freeways. Once the driver dropped me off, the cost of the ride was charged to my PayPal account (my preferred method of payment.). The cost? Just $15 and change for the ride. That’s cheap for how long it took to get there and the distance as well. I was immediately sold on Uber.

After my hike, it was time to go home. I booted up the app to request a ride back to the hotel. I choose my hotel as my destination and as for my pickup point, there was a few spots at the state park for pickups. I walked over to a Uber preferred pick up spot about a hundred yards away from the visitors center, marked myself on the map, and sent in my request. Within 30 seconds a driver was found. He was like 5-7 miles away and his ETA was like 9-11 minutes. I could see his car on the map and can track his progress as he makes his way to me.

The driver arrived within 11 minutes of sending in my request. Considering I was at a park kinda out of the way, that was still impressive.  And it still was faster than calling for a taxi back home – LOL. The ride back to my hotel took about the same time as the ride there and was another 15 bucks.

I used Uber 3 other times during my stay in LA. The next day, I was set to go to Griffith Park Observatory with my dad. He texted me with an ETA sometime after 12pm. It was 11am when I got the text and right after I received that text, my hearing aid beeped with a low battery warning. I was like, crap, I forgot to pack spare batteries. I looked at the Google Maps app on my phone to see if there was a nearby CVS so I can get spare batteries. There was one about 2 miles away. Too long to walk there and back.

So I went out of my hotel, requested another Uber to take me to CVS and within a minute, a driver pulled up in front of the hotel. It only took like 6 or 7 minutes to get to CVS. I was only charged 6 bucks for the ride. Now that’s cheap when I consider it cost 8 bucks flat rate for a taxi ride back home in Marinette and Menominee. 

Once I got the hearing aid batteries at CVS, I requested another Uber. One showed up within 3 minutes of requesting it and took me back to the hotel and another 6 bucks was charged to my PayPal account.

I used Uber again to take me back to the airport after checking out of my hotel and saying goodbye to my family. The driver showed up within a few minutes after I requested it. The ride to the airport, which was about 10 miles away, only took about 15 minutes on the congested freeway. Despite the amount of cars, traffic still moved and did not stop at all. The driver dropped me off at my terminal and the cost was only 13 dollars and change. 

I was very impressed with Uber overall. It even has a ratings system for both the driver and the rider. The ratings system is based on a 5 star rating. Every one of the drivers that picked me up had an average rating of 4.7 stars or better. I had no issues with any of my rides and gave them all a 5 star rating. In addition to that, each driver gave me a 5 star rating as a rider. I was proud that I earned 5 stars on each of my rides. I know a perfect 5 star rating won’t last. I’m sure I’ll encounter a driver that might be an asshole who thinks I might have shut the door too hard or maybe I tracked in some dirt into his vehicle or something. But no one’s perfect and I’m sure eventually I’ll be given less than a 5 star rating as a rider. 

The nice thing about Uber is that I can do it all from an app. No phone calls needed. Great for deaf people like myself. It’s one of the reasons why I hate taxis back home. Only one taxi service takes taxi requests by text message and they are not always available. The rest, I would either have to ask a friend to call for me or use a telecommunications relay service to call the taxi for me. I dislike having to do either.

I really hope we get a Uber in my hometown, but that is not very likely. But I’ll be keeping the app on my phone for my future trips out of town. If you are planning on a trip to a large city and need a way to get around, give Uber a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Tomorrow and Wednesday, I’ll write about my visits with my dad and sister. Until the, stay tuned 🙂 

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