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Commentary

Uber is a boon to travellers in many ways

My ride from the hotel using Uber cost me just US$12 (S$17.30). On the other hand, my return journey on a regular taxi came to US$28, including the mandatory tip.

While pricing should not be the only factor in deciding which transport service to use, my stay last week in Las Vegas to cover the Consumer Electronics Show reaffirmed my belief that Uber is a boon for travellers.

My previous experiences with taxis in foreign countries during work trips have not been good.

That is because every time a press event ended, there would be a mad rush by journalists there to get back to their hotels. If we were lucky, the event would be held at a busy public place with a taxi stand. Otherwise, you would see everyone flooding the streets trying to hail a cab. As strangers in a new land, we had no idea which cab firms to call or apps to use.

During my stay in Las Vegas, Uber made things easy for me. Besides the savings it gave me, I also liked that I could skip the long taxi queues at my hotel and the convention centres.

The Uber account and app that I signed up for in Singapore work anywhere in the 58 countries and 300 cities that the service is operating in. Whenever I used the app, my Uber driver arrived within minutes.

I also did not have to worry about the driver taking a long route because once I entered my destination, the app would chart the shortest route and I could track my journey. I could split the fare with fellow journalists via the app, and the best bit was that I did not have to calculate any tips.

I once ended up giving a US$6 tip on a US$14 fare as I had only two US$10 notes and the cabby claimed he did not have small change.

Uber does not require tips and the final amount is simply displayed in the fare.

My only complaint was that on some mornings in Las Vegas last week, surge pricing on Uber, which is the way it increases its rates due to high demand for rides, reached a peak of 9.6 times the regular rate. During those times, I went and joined the taxi lines.

Uber might be more convenient than taxis, but I wasn't going to be taken for a ride.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2016, with the headline 'Uber is a boon to travellers in many ways'. Print Edition | Subscribe