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UberA lot is said about UBER and what an evil monster it is. London taxi drivers like nothing more than to gripe about them (and I’m sure they do elsewhere, I just happen to have taken quite few London taxi rides in recent times – probably no more). And so it was that this Monday as I spent my first day in Boston, desperate for a ride, the taxi drivers spent (at least the morning) parading around the MIT buildings and no doubt everywhere else with anti-Uber stickers plastered over their taxis.

The problem is… they are taxis… And what do we do with taxis? Hail them, except we could not as they were too damned busy protesting.

So last night faced with a large purple bump under my foot due to walking miles with shoes not meant for walking (as my other shoes are in the bag which Iberia airlines misplaced) my colleague Swee An ordered an Uber taxi on his mobile. We got to watch a little map with his taxi superimposed as the driver firstly went the wrong way then as he tried to stop near us was harassed by an MIT police patrol which took him a block away before he managed to return for us. All good fun but I have to say everything worked smoothly and the real time monitoring feature of the app is great.

Instead of inconveniencing everyone with strikes maybe the traditional taxi companies should consider a move into the 21st century. If you can’t beat them…

Cost for me is not SO much of an issue but in a foreign country, convenience wins every time.

mapAnd so on my final day in Boston, I grabbed the app, signed up and gave them a shot. Despite the foot I’d decided I needed to get into Boston itself to take some pictures and I just walked and walked and.. by lunchtime I was fairly well beaten and after some attempts to get back to the riverside, standing in the middle of a street with no name, I gave up and opened up the app.

The app knew where I was, where the nearest car was and offered me a reasonably priced ride after requesting my destination. 2 minutes later, a nice looking car driven by an imposing black lady arrived and we headed off back – having a nice chat along the way. I packed my gear and got ready to go to the airport. Once again I contacted Uber.

Again all I had to enter was the destination and up came an approximate price. This time I had a benchmark as it had cost me $35 to get here in the first place. It cost me $31 to get back, in comfort with a very friendly driver who told me all about his experience with Uber. He’s been doing this for a while now and Uber take 20% cut of his fairs..

My web account has receipts, maps of my journeys and more – this at least on the surface is just SO much better than taking a traditional cab, I can see why the cab drivers are up in arms – maybe instead of getting together to protest they should be getting together to modernise.

Sadly it would appear they are currently banned from Spain where alternatives such as Mytaxi,  Hailo aand Cabify prevail. It seemed the Spanish government caved in to pressure from the taxi lobby. and of course you may know that in Spain you can’t just fit solar panels to your house – something to do with pressure from the electricity company… hmm.

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