Available in over 66 countries, Uber is easily one of the largest phenomenons of the 21st century. The ability to go from point A to point B in just five short clicks, without having to worry about payment, is a whole new advancement of our time. But the million dollar question still asked by many: Is Uber "safe" and is it 'worth it?”
The story of Uber takes us back to 2008 when the co-founders, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp were complaining about the many annoyances we have to constantly deal with, transportation and money. Prior to the launching of Uber, having an easy form of transportation and available cash at hand was hard to come by. Making it affordable was another arising issue.
In a quote given to The Wall Street Journal, Travis said, "I'm a trustbuster. Very focused. And yeah, I'm pro-efficiency. I want the most economic activity at the lowest price possible. It's good for everybody, it's not red or blue."
Travis and Garrett were sitting at a local coffee shop, when they dreamed up the idea of solving this global issue of finding transportation at the right place and the right time. Within weeks, they had prototyped several possibilities and engineered a mobile app that would create the accessibility of a fast ride into anyone's hands.
Fast forward to January 2010 when Uber was testing cars in New York City. With just a few cars and even less people aware of it’s existence , Uber suddenly went viral. Not long after, San Francisco joined in to host Uber and the rest was history.
Today, Uber is one of the leading transportation services in the world with a networth of 17 billion, and over 8 million users. Uber has widely spread to all ages. Of those 8 million, about 45 percent are ages 25-35 years old, 25 percent range from ages 14-24, and 10 percent from 35-50+.
Julie Raigosa, a Sophomore at Staples High School, talked about how grateful she is for Uber, “I started using Uber about a year ago and it has helped me get to where I need to go when my Dad is away for business. This app has honestly been so helpful in my life, and the fact that it is so easy to use is amazing! Uber is awesome!”
Uber’s ability to navigate through its app easily, makes the mere 10 seconds of downloading the app worth it. After it is downloaded, you input some basic information, sync your card for payment, make sure your GPS location is on, and you are set!
The common question: “Is it hard to request a ride?” Not at all! Just turn on the app and the GPS will show you where you are, and display the available black Uber vehicles on the map, letting you know how many drivers are available near your area. Plug in your destination, and the app will automatically give you an estimated time of arrival, and a traveling fee.
Uber’s appeal to it’s older audience consists of the app requiring the user to sync up a credit card for payment. Few see this as an annoyance, but in fact it is viewed by many as an advantage. This way, users do not have to worry about having available cash to pay off their driver. Once the ride is done, so are you.
Here in Connecticut, Uber prices are significantly lower than in cities like New York and New Jersey primarily because of the demand of this service. Due to the increased population in New York and their need for Uber, their prices rise. Take for example a city such as Los Angeles.
When comparing the offered services and prices in Connecticut versus those in Los Angeles, you see the amenities that come with being in a larger city, and paying more.
Pricing and car services available in Los Angeles
Pricing and standard car services available in Connecticut
Other than the global spread of the app itself, Uber also gets much of its attention from how relatively "safe" the service can be. After reported accidents had surfaced about Uber drivers assaulting their riders, many videos and memes started publicizing the dangers and terrible service of the app.
Ultimately, these videos about "crazy" and "creepy" Uber rides only ended up promoting the use of the app even more. The result being, everyone wanted to experience and create their own scary Uber ride story. Sami Levin, a Sophomore at Staples High school, shared her own thrilling Uber story. She took an Uber ride home from a party with a friend. It had been around 12am, and to avoid waking her mom up just for a pickup she requested a ride.
She had gotten in the car with her friend, and they both sat in the back. She had remembered telling her friend that she was incredibly thirsty wished they could both get slushies.
A couple minutes had passed and they both realized they had been taken right back onto a main street instead of to her friend's house. They did not want to say anything because they still had no idea what was going on; either he was taking a different route , or he purposefully went the wrong way.
Several minutes had passed and the two Sophomore girls found themselves in the front of a Cumberland Farms gas station. They both asked the driver if he was stopping to get some gas, to which the Uber driver replied "No, we are going to get some slushies!"
Both girls were extremely confused. They both thought their driver was teasing them, and that he was really just stopping for gas. But lo and behold, he was not. Their driver said, "You two ladies said you wanted slushies, right? Well how about you two stay in the car, and wait for me to go inside and get them!"
He then came back with three slushies, two for the girls, and one for himself, and proceeded to drop off the girls at their destination. The two girls got out of the car more confused than ever.
Sami said, "I remember thinking, this is it. I am going to die in this Uber with a slushie in my hand."
She added, "It made me think maybe all those sketchy stories were true. But after getting the slushies from our driver, and having a nice conversation with him, we found out he was just trying to do something nice for us. Sure his approach could have been different, but he was a nice guy. Needless to say though, we did not end up drinking the slushies. You know just in case."
The friend who had been with Sami, Kayla Sirlin, has ridden Uber quite often, and has experienced situations like these. But says she is never discouraged to stop riding because of it.
"You are always going to feel somewhat uncomfortable in an Uber. But it is safe. The fact that the app picks reliable drivers and background checks them is a huge plus. And Uber always syncs your drivers data with their car type, name, and license plate number into your riding history automatically. Which means if something were to happen, they would know exactly who it was and all their information. Uber is safe. Sure you are in a stranger’s car, but it's cheaper than a taxi, and ultimately safer", says Kayla Sirlin.
Since the invention of the meter-running taxi cab in 1897, millions of people have trusted taxi cars to get them to where they need to go. But the difference between a taxi and an Uber, is that Uber is factually safer, and easier to use.
Taxi safety features versus Uber
The Uber company background checks every driver thoroughly, and can usually take up to 2 weeks to get back to the applicant. Passengers are also given a photo, name, car, and license plate number of the driver. The safety process for a new driver is more rigorous than imagined.
Ultimately, it is one's own decision to refrain from using Uber, and instead use alternative forms of transportation like biking, taking the bus, a taxi, or riding the train. However, at the end of the day, Uber has been proven to be a safe, worthy, and reliable service compared to the alternatives.