Have you ever tried to find a taxi in Melbourne on a Friday afternoon? It can be a frustrating experience.
Let Uber come to your rescue. Uber is like a premium taxi service – their tagline is ‘everyone’s private driver’ – and if you’ve ever wanted to feel like a celeb using a stylish Uber to arrive to your destination is the first step!
The service started in San Francisco and has now spread worldwide, landing in Melbourne a few months ago (there’s also Uber Sydney and soon to be Uber Brisbane). I used the service for the first time recently and was very impressed.
All you have to do is download the Uber iPhone and Android apps or use your smartphone to go to m.uber.com to sign up with your information and credit card details. If you’re in their red-zoned area you can request a car at any time to take you anywhere (including outside of the red zone) – note you can’t pre-book, the cars are on-demand only.
You will receive an indication of how long your nearest car is from your pick up point and once your request is booked you can watch the car on screen as it crawl up towards you like a miniature ant. To make it easier to spot your Uber you are told the registration number of your car, the driver’s name and the driver’s phone number in case you need to contact them.
The whole booking process is easy and I’ve found that cars are generally no more than 15 minutes away if you’re in the CBD or inner city, even during times of higher demand.
The cars themselves are luxurious black sedans and it feels like you’re being whisked away in a fancy limo rather than a scummy taxi. We were even offered mints by one driver!
When you arrive at your destination your registered credit card is automatically charged so there’s no need to tip or scrounge around looking for your wallet – the door is just held open for you and you can sail out. Within minutes you’re automatically emailed a detailed tax invoice of your journey with a breakdown of costs and your driver’s details.
Uber is more expensive for a standard taxi (about double the cost), but it is a much smoother and pleasant experience and particularly useful if you’re needing transport during peak hours or if you’re going to the airport (which costs a flat rate of $80/$95). What I do is follow Uber on Twitter @Uber_Melbourne to find out when they have special promotions – sometimes it’s free rides, sometimes it’s a discount code.