By Jon Webber, Kapi‘o Staff Writer /
Four minutes to burn, so I explore the new app on my smartphone. A small icon of a car nudges itself closer to my location on the screen. Three minutes left and the map zooms in a bit. I find a shady spot that is better than the hot, sunny one I was just standing in. Two minutes quickly dwindle to one and I receive a text message notifying me that my ride is almost here.
I swap back to the Uber app and glance at pictures of both the driver and car scheduled to pick me up. The car with the correctly identified license plates rolls up, driven by the person shown in the profile picture I just referred to. We greet each other by name as the floral-scented interior engulfs my nasal passages. The soft, conditioned leather and lack of clutter on the vehicle’s floor convey the message that someone cares about this car.
We arrive at my destination and bid each other farewell. No currency exchanges hands as I get out and close the door behind myself. Two minutes later my smartphone chirps to let me know it has more information to tell. Uber has sent a receipt to my email account, and would like me to rate the experience. Five stars.
This was my first experience utilizing the Uber transportation app. It is an extremely user-friendly application that uses your cellphone’s GPS to locate you, then finds the driver nearest to your location to pick you up. The user may select from many categories of vehicles, pickup and drop-off locations, and can even opt to use the program to call for a traditional cab. Rates for different vehicles vary and are able to be compared to one another.
Fees are charged to the credit card, which the user has linked to the app, so money is not physically exchanged during the ride. This is an optimal feature for the college student who has more important things on which to spend his or her cash. This also means their lecture-drained brains need not attempt quick math for a cabbie’s tip. Those students who enjoy using social media to stay connected can share their location and ETA with their patiently waiting friends.
Rates vary, yet they are generally cheaper than traditional cabs. This is ideal for college students who want to enjoy a night out responsibly and still save money. Friends who use the app for a ride have the option to split the fare, thereby eliminating another math problem during an evening away from studies.
Cash flows both ways, and so does Uber. The college student with a vehicle has the option to earn extra income as a driver for the company. Registration involves a vehicle inspection and a three-level background check, and then drivers can begin making money. Drivers are able to design a flexible schedule for themselves, which is convenient for the exam-filled life of a college student.
“I can turn it off, on whenever, if I wanna take a lunch break whenever, if I wanna just go take off for an hour whenever,” said Uber driver “Mr. Won.”
Drivers may choose when they drive, where they go, and whom they pick up. This fluid schedule is able to meld perfectly with any student’s busy class schedule. Paychecks are deposited into the driver’s checking account, so weekly funds are promptly available. The five-year-old company started in San Francisco, and has been sprouting outward into over 50 countries and 500 cities since then. Drivers have the option to work in any city they like, so less time is wasted looking for a job during summer and spring breaks. This also opens up financial opportunities during semesters spent abroad.
“You can use it, or you can actually provide the service,” said Mr. Won.
When considering the unpredictable schedule and frugality of a KCC student’s academic life, the Uber app is a great tool to help unwind on the weekends and earn income after classes during the week.