Here in Boston, Uber has slowly (but surely!) become the transportation method of choice. In my freshman year, I had never heard of it. After hearing about it for the first time, I was skeptical. Time went on — I tried Uber for the first time, was satisfied, then continued using their services. Now, nearly everyone I know here at school is comfortable using it, some even calling one on a semi-regular basis.
Hearing about Uber’s most recent round of funding made me sit down and think about their services and the role they have played in my life so far. As one of my friends likes to summarize, “Uber wants to turn cars into a service.” But how far off is this goal?
Saturday night. Commonwealth Avenue. 11PM.
After getting ready for a night of bar-hopping downtown, my already-a-bit-tipsy friends and I weight our transportation options.
Walking? Hell no.
Riding the T? We would have to walk to the stop down the block… then wait for the next train. That one might be full though… so I guess we could wait for the next. I mean if that one’s packed I wouldn’t want to wait for a third one. We could totally squeeze in among all the other sweaty, drunk college students, right! Totally! It’ll only take us like… an hour… to get to Hynes, right?
Taking a taxi? Just kidding, nobody suggested that.
Uber? Will it fill all of us? We could get an UberXL. It’s expensive? We can split it! Or we could split into two groups and get separate Ubers? We can still split it that way! It shouldn’t be too much. We’ll get there with some time to party too! Do you have Uber yet? You can use my referral code! Ok I just called one. Did you guys call the other? We can meet up at this bar! Oh I just got a text, ours is downstairs! All right guys, let’s go! See you all there!
Friday night. Somewhere in Newton, Massachusetts. 9PM.
Do you have the address?
No, do you?
Ugh, I can bring it up on my phone. One second! Hmm… this says they’re only a short walk from the BC stop.
But we’ve been walking for like 10 minutes!
I know! I’ve been walking with you too! My GPS said it should be close…
We should’ve just taken an Uber or a taxi or something.
Do you know how expensive that would’ve been?? I don’t have the money for that kind of Uber ride!
Fine… do you know how much longer it’ll be?
I think it’s just around this corner…
How do you think we’re gonna get home?
… err… walking?
It’s only 9 and look at this place! We’re in the middle of nowhere! I’m not walking through here at night ever again…
I see what you mean… Can you check Uber? Maybe we can call one out here?
My phone’s running low but I can try…
Maybe the place is around this corner…
Huh, the nearest Uber is like 20 minutes away.
Can I turn my data off now? I don’t want my phone to die!
Yeah, sure, I got it. Maybe we can find people to walk back with? The T runs late on weekends now!
… I mean, if that’s our only option.
Yeah, there’ll be tons of other BU people there that’ll need to get home. Right?
We shouldn’t have come out here at all, huh.
Yeah… that too…
Fairfax County, Virginia. George Mason University campus. 11PM.
We were exhausted. 24 hours ago, we were in Boston, preparing to board the next red-eye bus to Washington, D.C. It wasn’t easy to sleep as it bumped and bounced on every pothole and rock on the way, but we had to. We had a long day ahead of us. Our seat-mates came and went with every stop, but we stayed cozy for as long as we could, hoping that the next person to board the bus wouldn’t take the empty seats next to us. I need to put my feet up, dammit!
At 8 a.m., we finally arrived at our nation’s capital. We took it in for all of 5 minutes, before hurriedly stuffing into a cab to go to our conference.
Hours later, the conference had concluded, and after the closing ceremonies, we dragged out luggage out the door before realizing that we had no idea where we were going. “Should we ask someone for a ride?” asked one friend. “Maybe we could call a cab?” suggested another. We wandered through the campus, now dark and freezing, wondering what we should do.
“I found the number of a taxi company,” announced one person. “I’ll call them, see if we can get one or two.”
An hour later, we remained standing outside, shivering in the cold.
“Where is this taxi?”
“We can’t get an Uber, can we?”
“Er…,” thought one friend, “I looked on my phone and I don’t think there’s any…”
“Ugh, what are we gonna do??”
After waiting a few more minutes, some representatives from the conference walked by. “What are you guys doing out here??” he exclaimed, “It’s freezing!” We explained our situation and he graciously offered to take us to our hotel.
“None of you have cars??” he questioned, genuinely surprised.
“Nobody has them in Boston,” we explained, “we didn’t realize it would be a problem down here…”
New York, New York. 2AM.
Should we call an Uber?
Nah, taxis are actually faster and cheaper here.