Travel Insider: Advice from an Uber Driver

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 Victor J. Blue / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Jeff Richards has been an Uber driver for a little more than six months and a ride share user for over two years. That’s been enough time for him to learn that pick-up locations are a headache for riders and drivers, it’s possible to avoid surge charges, and that there’s almost no situation where the yellow cab is better. We talked to Richards about his experience as a user and a driver for some insight on making the most of car sharing services.

What is the biggest mistake people make while traveling and using ride shares?
Not using their Uber or Lyft reservation app correctly. When you choose your pickup spot, make sure that you choose a place where the car can easily get to and find you. Don’t just drop the location pin wherever you are at the moment — drop it where you will be so there is no confusion.

What’s your top piece of advice for Uber users?
I work part time as a tour manager for musicians and so I travel a lot. At a show in Boston, I took an Uber to go pick up extra cables across town. Instead of having the Uber driver just wait outside the store while I went inside to get the cables, and then ended up calling another Uber to come get me five minutes later. It cost me a lot of time and more money when I could’ve just had my driver wait outside the store. It’s only 20 cents per minute to pay for your driver to wait and is much more convenient. If I had thought of that in Boston, I wouldn’t have shown up late with the cables.

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If budget is a concern, should you take ride shares or a taxi?
Hands down, always take a ride share over a taxi. It is just a better — and usually cheaper — experience. Also, know the ride share fares of wherever you are traveling since fares differ from city to city. And to avoid surge charges, switch back and forth between Uber and Lyft. If Uber is experiencing a surge, get a Lyft, and vice versa.

What does the future of ride shares look like?
From a driver’s standpoint, the companies who continue to lower their fares are going to get lower-quality cars and drivers. If you pay someone $15 an hour to drive, you are going to have the type of people willing to drive for $15 an hour working for you. But ride sharing is here to stay. Uber and Lyft are definitely having some shakeups within the system when it comes to lowering fare, but those are just wrinkles that can be smoothed out.

But you think it’s here to stay?
Even with changes, I don’t think the concept of sharing rides is going anywhere. It’s a genius platform. It’s just more enjoyable than a taxi, it’s reliable, and it’s much more efficient.