I’ve often been a critic of DC cabs – uneven quality, getting more expensive and above all, attitudinal drivers who berate me even though they don’t know where they are going (I live on a very difficult to find street, which of course, is why I try to explain where it is).
But what was the alternative, when the destination was not close to Metro and too far to walk? (Heaven forbid I have to find the car, drive and find parking!) Enter Uber, an on demand sedan service.
There was quite a buzz in certain circles when Uber launched in DC, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a guinea pig for the service. Since then, I’d heard positive reviews, interestingly, mostly from women going out on the weekends.
A few weeks ago, I finally tried it out for the first time. Since then, I’ve used it quite a few times, with trips to National Airport (no, it’s not called Reagan National, thank you very much), Old Town Alexandria and various parts of DC.
Verdict: high quality, reliable, polite, knowledgeable. In terms of price, usually just a few dollars more than a cab, but beware high volume times, when prices can be significantly higher. That said, it’s a breath of fresh air and a welcomed addition to the DC transportation scene. And I’ll be a regular user.
First trip – Dupont Circle to National Airport.
- Wait time: It was a rainy morning during am rush hour, so wait was 15 minutes, although in reality, it may have been a bit closer to 20. Not unexpected: everything slows down in the rain and in rush hour. No problem in this case, because heading to the airport, I allowed myself plenty of time.
- Service: Wonderful. Polite driver, comfortable car, relaxing experience, great for heading out of town for a business trip.
- Price: Comparable to DC cab. With the extra fee that cab companies charge for calling, I think it was basically the same. A clear win for Uber
DC to Old Town
- Wait time: 10 minutes, perfectly acceptable for a rainy weekend.
- Service: Very nice, a SUV this time, which was perfect for navigating the stormy drive down the GW Parkway.
- Price: Very expensive. 50% premium given the time of day and the weather. However, we had to get to Old Town (and back) for dinner, and we weren’t about to drive. Last time we took a cab to Old Town, I was ill from the ride. A luxury, probably should have cabbed it, but happy we didn’t.
Old Town to DC
- Wait time: 5 minutes, perfect, since we were just wrapping up our double date at Virtue Feed & Grain (wish that place were closer to us!), and very quick. I say this because I wasn’t sure how Uber would be in the ‘burbs.
- Service: Very nice, although G didn’t like mild thump of clubbing music in the car. I, on the other hand, appreciated it for a Friday evening
- Price: Without the 50% surcharge we paid on the way there, about the same as a cab. Note: the last cab we took to Alexandria got lost, making us 20 minutes late, and the driver didn’t have GPS to find the way there. Nor was he a good listener, pretty much not paying attention to the Google maps directions we were trying to give him from the backseat. Another clear win for Uber.
Dupont to downtown (and back)
- Wait time: 5 minutes, although in this case, we were running a bit late, so our driver pulled over and waited for us.
- Service: Comfortable and smooth, as we have come to expect.
- Price: With increase in cab fares, maybe $2-3 more? But for an anniversary dinner, why not go in style? Perfect Uber occasion.
- Return trip: Similar on all fronts. Plus, how fun to get into the waiting black sedan, especially leaving Fiola, which was good, but a slightly more pretentious crowd than my norm (more on that later)
Overall, it’s a great additional option for transportation in and around the city. We’ll be using it regularly and enjoying a much more pleasant and relaxing experience. Just watch out for the surcharges!