Uber Cabs has created such a hype of an ultra glam, ultra luxurious cab service that’ll be at your service at the click of a button. You imagine a long black limo with a driver in uniform, ready to salute you when you arrive, greet and pickup your luggage and drop you wherever you demand. Well, it’s time to wake up because that’s definitely NOT what’ll happen when you order a Uber cab! (atleast in Delhi).
I tried out Uber while coming from New Delhi Railway station to my home at Noida.
1. I launched the app a few minutes before the train was docking in at the New Delhi Railway Station. You are expected to drag a map and place a pin where you would like to cab to arrive. The map inside the app shows you the nearby cabs and the expected waiting time (which in my case was around 10 mins.).
2. I gave an approximate location of the expected pickup point since it wasn’t easy to make out where the exact pickup point on the railway station would be. When you start the booking, you are shown the cab charges (I have attached the details at the end of this post) and the time it’ll take for the Uber cab to arrive. Immediately, $1 was charged on my AMEX card and the booking was confirmed. I was shown the details of the driver (his name and photo) along with the type and registration number of the Uber cab.
3. Since this was my first booking, I used the “Contact Driver” option and called him up to inform him about my exact location to avoid any confusions and delays later.
4. After stepping out of the station and 2-3 phone calls back and forth with the driver, he was finally able to spot me amongst the huge crowd and traffic jam near the station. In my case, the car was a white Toyota Camry.
5. The driver placed my luggage into the car’s boot. We stepped into the car. He asked me my destination and started driving.
6. The driver dropped us at our residence, smiled and left. My credit card was charged and the trip was complete. There was nothing I had to pay directly to the driver. Overall, it was a smooth and pleasant experience.
Sounds all good? Not quite. There are several things you must know about the service:
Gotcha’s and Things-You-Should-Know:
1. Atleast for now, Uber is just a fancy name for a company they have outsourced the actual cabs to. The company running their operation is a normal taxi operator in Delhi called “Orange Cabs”.
2. Toyota Camry is a spacious but ordinary C-segment sedan. If you own/drive any other C segment sedan (like the City, Verna, Civic, Altis etc.), you won’t find anything impressive about this car to justify the premium you’re paying for the service.
3. Since I live at Noida, Uber cabs have to pay a toll tax on crossing the Delhi-UP border. You will have to pay this fees in addition to the normal Uber fare. Other taxi services like Meru etc. do not need to pay this tax since they have a Delhi-NCR permit. But Uber cabs have only Delhi permits. This toll tax would be in addition to your normal fare and has to be paid at the toll booth directly. In my case, this toll was about Rs. 120. (Note: This toll is different from the toll tax at DND flyway). What’s even worse is that the driver will go an extra 5 kms. to the toll office to pay the tax. All of this (the travel and the waiting) adds up to your bill.
4. As of now, there is no pickup service at Faridabad and Noida. In other words, you cannot start a Uber trip from Faridabad or Noida. But the drop facility is available everywhere in Delhi and NCR. Even in Noida, no pickup and drop exists beyond Kaushambi and Vaishali.
The financial aspect:
The distance from the railway station to my house as per Google Maps is 28 kms. But because of the toll menace, we had to travel 7 kms. extra*. Here are the final stats:
Trip Distance – 35.26 kilometers
Duration – 40 minutes, 59 seconds
Base Fare – Rs. 70.00
Distance @ Rs. 20.00 /km – Rs. 705.06
Time @ Rs. 2.00 /min – Rs. 81.97
Total – Rs. 857.03
Note: The total cost of the trip also depends on the trip duration!
The technology driving this company is the most amazing part of the experience. The entire backbone of the cab service runs on a couple of iPhones and Google Maps. The entire process is completely automated – The driver’s cab has an iPhone mounted inside it, which keeps track of it’s location and keeps sending it to you while you’re waiting for the cab to arrive. The entire route you take to your destination as well as the time you take is calculated on the driver’s iPhone’s application.
More insights: (learnt while I gossiped away with the driver en-route)
1. Uber’s service has lead to a lot more workload for the cab’s drivers, in comparison to doing regular hotel/airport drops. This means a lot more driving and a lot more work.
2. Uber’s cars are premium sedans which run on petrol and diesel and give a lot less mileage compared to econo-sedans like Verito, Dzire and Accent, which run on CNG. Plus premium sedans are often driven by premium drivers. All of this adds to the running cost.
Does Uber plan to beat Meru, EasyCabs etc.? If so, they certainly will never be able to do that. Uber runs a “premium” service for people who wish to travel from point A to point B in comfort (and style) and for whom, money is a non-issue.
My opinion – Indians are price conscious. Does the service deserve the premium? For the cars – Yes, once they introduce more of their premium line up of BMW’s and Merc’s. For anything else – No. Meru does a fine job for me. Ola cabs, Easy Cabs etc. would also probably do just fine.
(Tip: If you’re trying Uber, use promo code iuemz and get a Rs. 300 off on your first ride!)
*Update: Uber contacted me and gave me a Rs. 300 discount for the extra distance I had to go to pay the toll tax. Impressive!