Why I use Uber: They go where Black Cabs Don't.
*Originally posted April 7, 2016
I live in Camden, it’s in zone two and pretty damn central. One night I was running late for a gig and thought “Fuck it. I’ll just take a cab.” I walked out to the High Street. No black cabs. I couldn’t find one to save my life. They only exist in my neighborhood on a weekend night and even then, they’re tricky to find. There are times when I finish a gig one of the outer boroughs of London, it’s late at night, the tube has stopped running and again, when I walk out onto the High Street of whichever neighborhood I’m in there are no black cabs. Most mini-cabs are based within a certain neighborhood, and since I don’t carry around a rolodex of business cards, it can be tricky getting home in this wee hours of the morning.
Then a friend told me about Uber and my prayers were answered. When it comes to online commerce I’m a bit of a Luddite. When I’m booking tickets for a concert, I prefer to call a venue directly then go through an online booking agency. If I want to buy something, I go to a local shop before ever going to Amazon. In fact I only buy things online when I can’t find them elsewhere. Argos makes me nervous because I can’t look at a product in person before buying or reserving it. I started using Uber for one reason; it shows up where black cabs don’t and it usually does so very quickly.
I understand that cabbies are annoyed with the competition. But, to me it looks like Uber is servicing a clientele that they never were. The late night owls on the outskirts on London with a tiny budget. Even now, I don’t use Uber often. It’s a luxury item to be used sparingly. Too many personalized cab rides puts too much of a dent in my pocket money. If I don’t have pocket money I can’t go out and spend coin on the things that are really important to me (booze).
If Uber didn’t exist I don’t believe black cabs would even be an option from me. I once arrived back to London from Brighton late enough to miss the last tube. I was tired and hungry, and thought a cab would be easier and faster than the night bus. Victoria Station has a taxi rank. So I crawled into the back of a black cab thinking how much more can it be? SO MUCH MORE! If I had been quoted the price for the four mile ride (£24.59) I would have politely declined. I think more and more people are taking private cars because Uber is cheap and convenient. I bet a large number of those people would have stuck with the night bus if the prices weren’t so competitively low. Uber is in the neighborhood black cabs can’t easily be found and it’s in the price range for someone who gets paid a working class wage. Sometime I don’t even get cash sometimes I’m literally paid in peanuts. Bar peanuts and beer. And I don’t know any cab driver that accepts that currency. If they did, I’d take cabs every day.