Uber, a Questionable Perk?



Lauren Korduner’s article regarding Laguna Beach entering into a pilot program with Uber to provide rides to seniors, – this needs closer scrutinizing before applauding the effort.

Uber, as many know, is the subject of numerous lawsuits, tightening regulations, protests, and in some cases, being banned from operating. I hope the Laguna Beach City Council has done their due diligence.

To be a “perk”, Uber must first make several fundamental changes to be truly usable to seniors. Never used Uber before? Bear in mind traditional Uber is a smartphone-based system, using an app. There is no telephone ride-ordering option. Using the app requires the senior be experienced and comfortable to install the app, trust online payments with credit card, navigate on the app with a steady finger on a small on-screen map, and ensure the cellphone has a well-charged battery. If things go wrong, problem resolution is through the Uber app, not telephone.

Uber’s service is time-sensitive. Current policy holds that if a customer takes longer than two minutes to walk to the waiting car, the driver may leave, and the senior is charged a cancel fee. Will Uber change this? Will drivers be trained to expect senior passengers in need of assistance to enter and exit the car?

With such hurdles, it remains to be seen whether Uber’s pilot program can really be of benefit. Have the City Council members used Uber themselves?

Richie Greenberg, San Francisco


The author is a frequent visitor to Laguna Beach

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  1. Will surge pricing be in play as well? Seniors on a fixed income may not want to pay $100 for a ten mile ride.

  2. Just to clarify on Richie Greenberg’s comment. A couple of things are misleading. Uber drivers are instructed to wait not two minutes, but five minutes if the ride is not ready when they arrive. A countdown timer appears on the drivers app which is monitored by these companies. At that point, a Uber or Lyft driver can call the phone number to ask if they are ready. If not, they have the option of continuing to wait, or to leave without any penalty to the driver. The caller can request another ride . Also, many Uber and Lyft drivers are trained in senior assistance on entering and exiting safely. Some have medical training. These drivers are rated by the passenger also on their Iphones, from one to five stars, which go on their record at these companies. Three stars, or below and you will never be paired with them again.

  3. Dave Blackwood,
    Here are the actual listed costs for Uber:
    Uber X base fare-zero cost per minute- .15
    Uber XL base fare- 1.00 cost per minute- .30
    Uber Select- base fare- $5.00 Cost per minute-.40
    Uber Black- base fare $8.00 Cost per minute-.45
    So, for example if you chose the highest based ride offered, Uber XL, and went for a ten mile ride (approx. 15 minutes), your charge would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $14.75 $-15.00. The basic Uber X is far below that . No where near the $100.00 that you mentioned.


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