Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why I've Been Using Uber Instead of Taxis

Uber is under attack.  

That’s easy to understand.  Taxi operators feel that their livelihood is at risk and state governments are losing out on tax revenue that they gouge out of the industry. To me, the arguments about safety and so forth is just disingenuous drivel to justify the attack on Uber. 

I have used taxis a lot but I now only use them when I really must. If I am not in a hurry, I would rather wait another 5 minutes to get an Uber ride rather than hop into an immediately available taxi.   It is not because it is cheaper - in fact I would be happy to pay a similar price for the service.  I am glad that Uber is disrupting the taxi industry as it seems that this is the only way to pull it into a customer focused service.

Taxi Drivers Need to Know Where They Are Going - Using a GPS is Okay

I am fed up with taxi drivers having no idea of where important landmarks are. Admittedly, I have this problem more so in Melbourne than any other Australian city. In recent times, I had a taxi driver who did not know how to get to the Hilton South Wharf (let’s make that he had never heard of the hotel). This is the major conference hotel attached to the Convention Centre and has been open for many years.  I showed him the way from the airport. When we were almost there, I pointed to the top of the hotel where the Hilton sign was easily visible. I put my head down for a few moments to check some emails and the next moment, he had missed the turn off and there we were, heading down Flinders Street towards East Melbourne.  Also, within the last 12 months, I had a driver who did not know where the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Parkville was located. I do not mind if they use a GPS - at least Uber drivers do not pretend to know where everything is located and will proudly use the GPS. In the two examples given, the drivers seemed too proud to use their GPS.  I have different expectations for taxi and Uber drivers in that I do expect professional licensed drivers to know where they are going. 

Clean Vehicles and Drivers Would Help

About 25% of the taxis I get into are grotty old vehicles or the driver is shabbily dressed and in need of deodorant. Just because they now need to wear a uniform has not necessarily made them look like professional drivers.  Maybe if they even just tucked their shirt in and did not have breath that smelt like an ashtray, that would be a good start.  Often the space around driver and the front seat is full of rubbish. To date, the vehicles I have encountered with Uber have been on average, far better than the average state of vehicles I have encountered with taxis.

Ordering a Taxi is a Painful Process

One of the most frustrating aspects of catching a taxi is when you order one. When the operator abruptly insists that 'it will be the next available', the eye rolling on their part is palpable.  You are subject to the lottery system where the 'next available’ taxi is who ever taps the accept button first.  Often I get a taxi that is 15 minutes away rather than the taxi that is around the corner from my pick up site because that driver was quicker with hitting the accept button.  To me, the next available taxi is the one that is closest to me that is available to accept my fare. 

Arachiac System of Standard Driver Shifts Needs to Change

The lack of flexibility of taxi shifts is also an annoyance. It seems that all taxi drivers are finishing their shifts at the same time - I am asking myself why is it that it is always at the time that I really needed a taxi pronto. This rigid approach is not customer focused. Uber has no specific shifts - drivers are available when they are available- simple as that.

No Andrew Bolt or Alan Jones on the Radio PLEASE

The radio. This is not a big ticket item at all but becomes a complaint to supplement all the other dissatisfaction with the taxi industry. They seem to have this love of talk back radio. If taxi drivers were to be thinking about their customers, they would and should know that many people find talk back radio with the likes of Alan Jones or Andrew Bolt to be offensive.  Any music of any genre is much less likely to offend a proportion of the patronage than that of toxic shock jocks.  My word of advice is to just not to have talk back stations on the radio unless requested and you will offend nobody.

As a grass roots user of taxi services, this is my take on it. 

Others may have a different take but my concerns about taxis are largely ignored and that is exactly why I am one of many who have gravitated to supporting Uber.  

1 comment:

  1. with you 100% Henry... better service, cleaner cars, quiet journeys and free mints and bottled water...