Uber ride may be wave of the future

Most people own a car, perhaps more than one, but there are times when you can’t drive yourself and need a ride. Times such as when you don’t want to leave your car at the airport and pay the parking charges, when you get stuck at a venue without a ride home, or family and friends are busy or out of town themselves. What are your options?

Boulder City is unique in that it does not have a dedicated taxi service like Henderson or Las Vegas. There used to be an airport shuttle bus that picked up outside the Boulder Dam Hotel on a regular schedule but that ended several years ago. And we also have the Silver Rider bus that serves all of Boulder City (702-894-4190). But what if you need a ride to or from Henderson or Las Vegas? I was in this quandary when I needed a ride from the Mandalay Bay last month after a group function. I had the Uber app on my phone but had never used it.

According to BusinessInsider.com, Uber got its start in San Francisco, as UberCab. They began operating in 2010 and have spread across the globe. They are even forging the future with self-driving robotic cars in some areas. In May 2011 Uber launched in New York City and is providing around 82,000 rides per day. Uber quotes its fees as 35 percent less expensive than regular cab rides and most drivers are independent operators.

On one of the Boulder City Facebook pages I learned that we have local Uber drivers ready to receive your reservation and decided to give them a try.

The one-time set-up of the Uber app on your phone can be a little complex: it needs to “see” where you are, and you need to pick a payment method and provide details. I chose to go with PayPal, although they accept all bank cards, and once it was set up the process went smoothly.

I called and booked a reservation from Mandalay Bay to my home in Boulder City and learned that most hotels now have designated areas where Uber picks up passengers. Uber messages a fee range and the approximate time the driver will arrive. It also texts you the name of your driver and the car registration number.

My ride arrived on time. He was a very pleasant driver, a special education teacher who has lived in Las Vegas since the 1980s and has raised his children here. I chose to sit up front and we had a chatty journey out to Boulder City.

Unfortunately, when the driver received the reservation, he thought he was going to Fifth Street in Las Vegas and was a little dismayed to learn he was going all the way out to Boulder City. But it worked out well; he earned the fee (a bit on the expensive side) and a nice tip from me. And I had a safe and pleasant trip home.

Angela Smith is a Ph.D. life coach, author and educator who has been resident in Nevada since 1992. She can be reached at catalyst78@cox.net.