Ride sharing app
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Uber is an app-based rideshare transportation service provided by people who sign up to drive other people around in their own personal vehicles. It feels much like you are driving in your friend's car and the difference is just that you book your ride via the Uber app and pay a fixed price that is calculated by the app even before you book the vehicle. No more surprise meter charges typical for a city taxi. You can calculate the journey cost ahead of time with the Uber app, check if the price is feasible, and then book the nearest Uber cab, which will pick you from where you are.

»Uber Basics

Uber Basics

Uber is a convenient way to get a ride to your location while circumventing taxicabs and using just your smartphone to find private drivers ready to take a pick-up. What's more, you get to track your cab in real-time once you set your pick-up location and the best part is that your driver and cab information is displayed on your phone. Unlike conventional cabs that charge a premium price for a particular route, Uber is known for providing you with the best and the most reasonably priced taxi ride for the same journey. The app also lets users sign up with their credit card, which enables a cashless transaction - the Uber app automatically calculates the fare and remits the payment to the driver's account. A receipt is then automatically mailed to the email ID given for your Uber account.

As a traveler in the United States, Uber would be the second-best option next only to your feet if you want to explore somewhere in detail. And of course, availing yourself of the Uber service in a foreign country is like employing a friend's company on your trip; after all, the driver belongs to that place and the cab is a private vehicle that belongs to the driver.

The Uber Fleet

Uber accepts 2006 and newer vehicles joining its fleet of varied vehicles, which are segregated based on their make. All vehicles must comply with the NYC TLC vehicle retirement rules and must pass a TLC inspection.

Uber most definitely has a vehicle to suit almost every passenger's need, from solo passengers to a large group and even passengers with special needs;

  • Economy or low-cost cars for everyday use like commuting to work or grocery shopping are listed under uberX for non-luxury cars like Toyota Prius hybrids and Nissan Murano.
  • For a bigger group of people, Uber has its uberXL low-cost ride series, which consists of vans and SUVs like Nissan Pathfinder and Mitsubishi Outlander.
  • UberTAXI is yet another Uber initiative that hails a taxi on your behalf and you get to pay cashless even for this ride, just as you would in any other Uber vehicle.
  • Passengers who wish to ride in style may opt for UberBLACK, which comes with a professional driver and stylish cars like Mercedes-Benz M-Class or G-Class.
  • There is the uberASSIST and uberWAV (wheelchair accessible vehicles) series for those with mobility restrictions.
  • The uberSUV series caters to very large groups with premium large vehicles like Infiniti QX and Ford Expedition.
  • UberPOOL vehicles are for those who wish to travel in groups and split the cost.
  • UberLUX offers luxury sedans with a professional chauffeur service and is appropriate for extra special occasions.
  • Finally, uberSELECT has a series of high-end sedans driven by only highly rated drivers.
Photo: F8studio/Fotolia

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»The Uber Network & Crew

The Uber Network & Crew

As of August 2016, the Uber service was available in more than 66 countries and 545 cities, making it the best travel option for vacationers as well.

Uber has redefined the on-demand mobile services as its successful app-based business model has been implemented by many other companies and the movement itself has become popularly known as "Uberification."

Uber's prospective drivers are subjected to a series of screening checks through Checkr Inc., a security check company that ensures there is no conviction attributed to the applicant. Uber has emerged as one of the best employers in some of the major cities of the United States and naturally the company has to keep up with its quality standards to match its market reputation.

Uber's rating system is one-of-a-kind as individual feedbacks are recorded and recognized by the company. Just as low feedback scores affect a driver's reputation on Uber, a passenger who is consistently rated low will have limited access to the service or can even get totally barred.

How Uber Works For Travelers

As a traveler, it is quite common to experience annoyance over car rental costs, parking charges, varying gas prices, and the amount of time spent on collecting and dropping off the rental car; the harrowing part is having to drive your way throughout your visit. The maladies of renting a car are numerous, which will make you feel you might be better off with a private chauffeur!

In a foreign place where you are not familiar with the public transport system or are doubtful whether a taxi will ever turn up in your area, Uber is your best companion. All you need is the Uber app to get in touch with the nearest driver and you can just book your rides on the go. Photo: uzhursky/Fotolia

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»Getting the Uber App

Getting the Uber App

The only requirement for availing yourself of the Uber service is a smartphone to operate the Uber app and you are good to go on the Uber ride. The Uber app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store for Android smartphones or from the iTunes App Store for iOS smartphones.

Signing Up For an Uber Ride

Once you fill out your personal information on the Uber app, you will be asked to link your credit card or PayPal details and validate the same for all your future payments, which will be automatically charged to this account. Upon setting up your Uber account and linking your credit card to your account, all you need to do is;

  • Tap on your ride options to check wait time and price, then enter your pickup location and request a driver; you can track your cab in real-time while you wait. The average wait time in the US is recorded as 4 minutes.
  • When your ride arrives, you need to check if the driver and vehicle details match the details in your app to make sure it is your ride.
  • Upon arriving at your destination, your credit card on file will be automatically charged and the receipt will be auto-mailed to your email ID on record.

Uber Payment Modes

Within the United States, Uber ride payments are made without cash and are deducted from a credit card or PayPal account, whichever is tied to the passenger's Uber account. Uber accepts cash payments in a few countries like India, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia, where cash is widely used for small expenses. Photo: bartsadowski/Fotolia

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»Uber Alternatives

Uber Alternatives

Rideshare apps are growing in number and becoming popular, with a growing number of companies offering this service. These rideshare services have set up a comfort zone for passengers with their user-friendly apps and affordable charges. Several companies are constantly coming up with limitless ideas to attract more customers and the ultimate beneficiary will be a traveler who gets to choose from a plethora of great options.

Launched in June 2012, Lyft is a close alternative to Uber. Just like Uber, Lyft is another rideshare network company with its headquarters in San Francisco, California. The company operates via its smartphone application that mediates on-demand ridesharing by connecting a rider to a suitable driver true to its tagline - "A ride whenever you need one." This ever-evolving network of drivers and passengers is strengthened with a rating system that enables both parties to rate each other on a scale of five stars after every ride. The rating builds the other's reputation within the network. All due payments are debited from the passengers funding source like PayPal or a credit card that is linked to the Lyft account.

Dryvyng is a budding rideshare service company headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. Upon its launch, the company is going to specialize in providing safe and swift rides to wherever you need to go - at reasonable rates. The Dryvyng app claims that one gets to choose the price range for a specific journey, plus the rider and driver get to negotiate prices in seconds through a quick process on the app. Upon striking a deal, either the rider or the driver can choose the other party and proceed with the ride. With its high-end background checks, fingerprint verification, and social media integration in its plan, Dryvyng has made safety its top-most priority for both riders and drivers. So folks, this is yet another addition to the growing list of rideshare service providers and there is sure going to be more to this story in the near future. Photo: Denis Rozhnovsky/Fotolia

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How Does Uber Work?