Imagine yourself in this situation: You just get out of a movie night on a weekend, at 9 o’clock, in a mall somewhere in Jakarta, and everybody else are also searching the same thing as you do, finding a taxi service.
Generally the queue on the taxi waiting lists are insane and betting your luck to get any empty taxi halfway down the road is pointless. It is even worse when its raining. Several tweets from strangers complaining about how hard to get a taxi service in such condition is common. That wasn’t all, there are some occasion where you were rejected by the driver, even after waving your hand to stop them.
I once have to experience this after watching “Maleficent” while ago with my friend near Gatot Subroto, Jakarta. The amount of masses that exit the theater at once and looking for a cab, at weekend (although, there was no rain at all) was overwhelming. I spent about 30 minutes (maybe more) standing in the pedestrian, as i waved my hand trying to stop any taxi available.
Fortunately, there are ways to have less hassle and more comfortable in ordering a transportation service for now. It’s Uber.
What is Uber?
As Wikipedia explained:
Uber is a venture-funded startup and transportation network company based in San Francisco, California, that makes mobile apps that connect passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and ridesharing services. The company arranges pickups in dozens of cities around the world.
Or in my own-definition: is a taxi service where you can hire anytime using your smartphone, (and with ride-sharing capability).
How To Uber?
(and get a free* first ride!)
There are two ways to register, via website or via smartphone app. But wait, the main requirement is that you have to own a credit card. If you have none, i’m sorry but you can’t enjoy this service at the moment.
The first way is to use using the web interface (desktop, preferably), use this link to register. It’s a referral which will give you a free 115,000 IDR for your first ride. Interesting, doesn’t it?
The second way is from your smartphone. You may want to use the Uber app for iPhone or Android (since it is easier rather than opening a browser in a smartphone then navigate to the Uber homepage), then you could follow this simple guide to register. (Disclaimer: i only have access to an Android handset, so i’ll give the screenshot for Android app. I hope it can help the iPhone user)
(Press the Register button, insert your personal detail –after pressing the “Next” button, you will be asked for Credit Card information–, and Voila!)
To get the promotional bonus, you can also add the
uberfarislmn code by pressing the “Promotions” menu, and done!
I registered Uber via smartphone application and it went smooth as velvet, though there are some detail that might have need to be verified such as e-mail via website. But this can be done when you have access to the desktop or website interface. So, chill.
After registration and adding your payment detail (i.e. your credit card information) in the app, the interface is pretty straightforward. Using the internal GPS of your smartphone, the app will detect your location and put a pin in the center of your screen for you to press and order an Uber in that position. Suppose you are willing to move the pick-up point, simply drag the screen to any point of the street you want to and press “Set Pickup Location”
While determining your pickup location, the app also provide a way to estimate the total fare to your destination. Press the “Fare Quote” button and type in your destination. The app will search the possible alternative closest to the input term you used. My personal note is that don’t rely on the approximate arrival time provided by the app. Especially around the rush hour. Give a 30 minutes to 1 hour time for your driver to reach you, since the traffic in Jakarta is chaotic in some places. After seeing the estimated fare, you could tap the “Request Uber” button and wait until the Uber driver is responding. The responding driver will be the closest from your pickup point, or at least that was what the Uber driver told me.
When your driver is confirmed and en routed, Uber will send you an SMS and also update the notification within the app. (See the “Driver confirmed and en route” writing?). You also have options to call or to text your assigned driver to help him pinpoint your location, or ask them to call you if they already arrived at the designated place.
I had to call Mr. Andry yesterday because my pickup point is potentially confusing. I was at Senayan City Mall, the problem is there are three mall complex in that area alone side by side. (Jakarta FTW, i guess.). The pickup time on my 1st trial is assumed abnormal because i was lucky. Mr. Andry was just circling around the block when my request popped up, he said.
Anyway, the way Mr. Andry responded to my call was exceptionally professional. Started with greetings and short introduction. Shortly after, he asked me where exactly i want to be picked up (inside the Senayan City Mall complex).
I don’t decide my destination at the order process like i described above, and it was OK. The knowledge of Mr. Andry for the area around Jakarta (at least, the frequently visited places) is good. Trust me, there have been more than enough experiences with regular taxi driver that doesn’t even know several well-known place in Jakarta, let alone a railway station, of which where i was intended to go to that night.
As everyone’s private driver, Mr. Andry perfomed well. For about half an hour, we talked about the Uber, the EuropCar, and what he do before Uber. There was also complimentary beverage inside the car. Neat, doesn’t it?
(Yes, i was using a promo code for my ride. LOL)
As i arrived in my destination, Mr. Andry pressed “End Trip” in his smartphone. This triggered a popup from Uber app in mine. It told me the total fare i spent from my trip. At the same time, an e-mail notification from Uber arrives. It gave a detailed information about my trip, the base fare charge, time charge, and fuel charge. It also gave the statistic about my trip such as duration, average speed, etc.
The fare is directly billed to my registered credit card, therefore no cash involved. For me, a cashless transaction is always a plus. A plus more when it not requires me to draw the card and sign somewhere. Very convenient.
This also answer the insecurity that lurk within the taxi user in Jakarta. Because, in many cases, the taxi driver doesn’t give the change for the fare that passenger paid (for extra earning, i suppose). They often use “i have no smaller bills for change” as an excuse.
The Uber service might be good for some and maybe beyond reach for others. The mandatory credit card ownership in the registration process is one of plenty obstacle that the user and Uber have to face. As the credit card usage may not be that common in Jakarta as in New York City.
Chaotic traffic jam and unexpected ETA is other factors that lingers in the mind of potential (registered) Uber user out there. In some cases, it may be easier to wave your hand to stop any Taxi available from the pedestrian rather than wait for some uncertainty. Though, this matter is possible to overcome by incorporating Google Traffic data into ETA calculation method.
An update that shows ongoing fare as passenger roams is also plausible, i suppose. Also, as Uber increases their fleet, it may be wise to consider other feasible payment method, such as pre-paid card.