I’ve waited 45 minutes for a Yellow Cab to pick me up in the South Side. I’ve waited an hour for a Classy Cab to get me in Bloomfield. I’ve been so disappointed with the service of taxis in Pittsburgh, that I try to avoid getting stranded at any location without my trusty Toyota close by. I would rather drive my own car and pay a premium on garage fees and parking meters, just so I know that I will have reliable transportation when I am ready to go.
Pittsburgh is better known for its bridges and sports teams than for public transportation. Cabs are hard to find and harder to contact. The T will only take you so far in one direction. Buses are okay, but for the hassle of getting to a stop and the time it takes to get where you need to go, you’d expect it to be cheaper.
Introducing – Uber.
Ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft have been available in Pittsburgh since February. Long enough so that if you haven’t noticed any cars with pink mustaches, you must be living under a rock.
A few weeks ago, I downloaded the Uber app because my friend had a code we could use for a free ride. I also knew that driving my car and finding a place to park wouldn’t be an option. I was able to download the app, put all my information in, type in the promotional code and have a car on the way within 15 minutes. Once the car was requested, it was at my door in less than 15 minutes. The app told me exactly what kind of car would be arriving and what the license plate number was. I also had the name of the driver and a pretty accurate photo of what the driver would look like.
When he stopped in front of my house, I had no doubts about anything. He drove carefully and at the speed limit, and he took us exactly the route that I would have gone. He made casual conversation throughout the 15-minute drive and when we arrived at the restaurant, he dropped us off right at the door.
It was the perfect option – and the best part was that it was free. Uber is currently giving each person a unique code to give out to your friends. When your friends download and use Uber for the first time, they get their first ride free and you get a free ride for referring them. Think how many friends you could refer and how many free rides you could get. Obviously that promotion will only last as long as so few people have the app. As soon as everyone has taken a ride, it will become moot. But right now, it’s fantastic!
My driver asked for us to rate our ride on the app, and I happily gave him the full 5 stars. The rating system works well to keep each driver accountable for giving you the best ride – if their ratings would fall due to unsafe driving or late arrivals, of course you wouldn’t want to use the app anymore.
These ride-sharing services are becoming more prevalent, not just in Pittsburgh, but around the world. Cities are trying to get rid of them, and prove that without the licensing and insurance policies that taxi companies need to have, these services are illegal. The underlying sentiment, of course, is that companies like Yellow Cab and Classy Cab don’t want to lose business to these services that are actually better than theirs.
Uber and Lyft give us options. With these apps we can make a better choice as consumers to get affordable, reliable transportation in the city. More choices will lead to fewer drunk drivers and safer roads for everyone. In my experience with Uber, the app was very easy to use and my driver was safe, fast and reliable. I would happily take a ride with Uber again.
**Disclaimer: This post is entirely my own opinion. I was not contacted or compensated by Uber to write this review.