It's been just over a year since Uber launched their service in Grand Rapids, and business seems to be booming. The city's blooming downtown scene and growing population have made Grand Rapids a top place to visit, which has been great for the growing ride-sharing service. More people have been signing up to be Uber drivers, making virtually almost every Grand Rapids neighborhood accessible and changing the travel time of residents. So just how Uber-friendly is Grand Rapids after a full-year of service?
First let's get acquainted with the different services Uber offers and how they work:
UberX: This is Uber's low-cost service. A perfect budgeting option, Uber will send an everyday car to your location with seating up to four people.
UberXL: Another budgeting option, it offers the same service as UberX but instead of a sedan, you will get an SUV or van. This option allows for you to seat 6 people.
UberLux: Feeling fancy? UberLUX offers ride options in high-end vehicles from Uber's top rated drivers. Enjoy your trip in Tesla Model S, Mercedes Benz S-Class or BMW 7-series options. This style is pricey with a base fare at $20, but driving in style is worth every penny.
UberSUV: This is the premium version of UberXL, you get a car that can seat up to 6 people as well as stylish options.
Currently only the UberX and UberXL are available in Grand Rapids, but as the business progresses UberMichigan hopes to bring these additional services into play. Summoning an Uber driver is as easy as pressing a button, literally. If you've never used Uber before, it's an incredibly easy process and in just a few steps you can be on your way from point A to point B in your own private car.
1) Download their app (it's free) it's available on the Apple App store, Google Play & Blackberry.
2) Create an account (also free). You sign up with your email, phone number and credit card info. You won't be charged for anything until you select a service.
3) Set up your pick up location. This allows you see how many Uber drivers are around you as well as compare wait times and rates. A responding Uber driver can now see where you are through their company given phone and that you want to be picked up.
4) Set your destination. This allows the driver to know where you're going before they even pick you up.
5) Request Ride and Pay. Your driver will let you know that they are on their way with an ETA, what kind of car they're driving and a driver profile with contact information. The service will automatically be charged to the credit card you provided.
Why ditch the taxi? Don't fix something that isn't broken, right? A taxi will take you where you need to go and some people are saying that Uber is unnecessary because Grand Rapids already has service taxis. While that may be true, Uber offers competitive advantages that so many people crave: time-saving & penny pinching. In numerous studies of major cities, Uber has been proving to be both more cost and time efficient than their city's taxi drivers. Uber users are saying that the top three reasons they switched over from other services are easy payments, short wait time, and trip speed.
How do we fare? A simple fare calculator will give you most of the travel time and cost answers you need. We wanted to see how the fare compares between a city taxi and an UberX driver here in Grand Rapids. Here are the results:
Van Andel Arena to Gerald R. Ford International Airport
Distance: 14 Miles Time: 18 minutes
Uber Cost Breakdown
Taxi Cost Breakdown
Using the same TaxiFare and UberFare sites and process as above, we built out prices from Downtown Grand Rapids (using the address 1 Division Ave N, Grand Rapids, 49503) to the surrounding popular neighborhoods.
The UberX proved to be consistently cheaper than the taxi estimates. So next time you need a ride it might be worthwhile for your wallet to try out Uber's services.