DAY 19: Yellow Cab vs. Uber

Last Friday we put the two ride-hailing services to the test. And the winner is …

Stephanie and our daughter Robin needed to catch a 5:30 a.m. flight leaving from Hobby Airport. Without a car, their choices were a METRO bus, Uber or taxi. While there are other transportation services, we’re simple folk. No need to get fancy.

Given the hour, Stephanie ruled out METRO. The trip would have taken more than an hour and required rolling a suitcase six blocks. No thanks.

The Uber app looks good and works well.

She chose Uber. Stephanie had never booked anything but a come-get-me-now Uber ride. She wasn’t sure she could book a ride a day in advance. She searched the Uber app screen for words that might help her. (Ha! Words corrupt the interface!) After some poking around, she found a tiny clock icon and clicked on it. From there, it was easy. She booked the UberX ride for 4:30 a.m. and got a confirmation.

zTrip app hiccup makes comparison difficult

When I had the idea to do this comparison, I didn’t know the name of the Yellow Cab app. Going to the Apple app store, I typed in “Houston cab.” I found the HailaCab app and installed it on my phone. At the top of the app, it said “Yellow Cab.” Right app, I figured. Wrong. A scrolling message on the bottom of the screen said I needed the zTrip app. So, I installed it and plugged in my credit card info.

Use the zTrip app to book Yellow Cab rides.

About an hour before Stephanie and Robin were ready to leave, I requested my own cab using the zTrip app. In full mystery shopper mode, I entered my pickup address as a block away. That way I could see when Stephanie and Robin were picked up, and our drivers wouldn’t get into some crazy turf war. I got a “zTrip confirmation code” on my phone.

I threw some T-shirts in a suitcase and headed out the door. I wished Stephanie and Robin a great trip. I interpreted their looks of disbelief as confirmation of love and admiration.

The game is afoot

At 4:34, their Uber car showed up. At 4:40, my cab hadn’t materialized. Something was fishy. I texted the phone number that sent the confirmation code. No response. Obviously, my zTrip confirmation code meant something other than my trip was confirmed. Perhaps they were just confirming their love and admiration, too.

I went back to the app and requested a vehicle immediately. Then it worked like I expected. A driver was shown as being 8 minutes away. He showed up within 8 minutes. Obviously, Stephanie was going to get to the airport first. Still, there were plenty of other factors in this shootout.

Uber wins the battle

We rated our experiences 1 to 5 (1=awful, 3=adequate, 5=met or exceeded expectations).
















This was anecdotal, not scientific

But you knew that. Every trip is different, and individual Uber and Yellow Cab drivers differ. Then there’s the whole Uber surge pricing thing. However, at a similar time of day and similar situation, Uber will get our business. They were the hands-down winner.

Of course, our millennial daughter scoffed at the whole shootout thing. Sorry, girl. Sometimes obstinate old people need to try things for themselves. Even she was surprised, though, at the fare differences. So were we.