So, Get Me works better on a Monday night

It’s Monday night, and I’m south of campus. I know I won’t finish what I’m doing in time to catch the last bus home. With the SAFERIDE promo code, Get Me is the cheapest option to get home, so despite Saturday’s horrible experience with the app, I figured I’d give it a try. After all, I’m in the urban core rather than way northwest of it, and the longer ride back home will catch the eye of a driver a bit more easily.

At 10:48 or so I request a ride, noting that my discount will be off Get Me’s night-time rate ($2.75 per mile + 41¢ per minute). Within a minute the app switches to a map view indicating a driver, in his Highlander, has accepted my ride. Shortly thereafter (around 10:50) I get a text from the driver saying hi and that he’ll be there soon. I flip back to the app. He’s around Riverside, ten minutes or so away, once I pick out the white car icon from the light-colored Google map. Ah well, this is probably as good as it gets ETA-wise. I text the driver that I’ll meet him on the northbound street a block over from my original pickup point so we can both be on our way more quickly.

At 10:57, I get picked up. Thirteen minutes and $15.57 + tip (I rounded the rate up to $18) later, I’m home. Note that that fare reflects a 50% discount on mileage and minute rates; the ride would’ve been $27.43 + $1.85 = $29.28 without tip had I paid full freight. A few bucks cheaper than UberSELECT would’ve been because there’s no base fare, but in the same ballpark. My driver, due to Get Me’s 80/20 fare split, got $21.94 for the ride (for reference, UberSELECT’s 28% cut would’ve put him at a few cents less despite their higher customer price), $24.37 including my tip, for about 22 minutes of trip time and 11.5 miles of distance including the pickup. What’s weird is that night rates started earlier than I thought they would…their Terms of Service listed 11pm though even at 10:40 the app indicated that the elevated rates were already in effect.

I keep mentioning UberSELECT because that, along with UberXL, is what this driver did before Prop 1 failed, full time, for the past six months or so. He made good money at it, too…just as he likely is with Get Me at this point. He is, as far as I’m concerned, the professional driver type who I’d never expect to retain via UberX, Lyft, or any other service with a similar rate structure to theirs.

On the ride, we talked about the differences between the Get Me app and Uber, among similar topics. He remarked that short rides, which tend to get ignored in-app, are hard to pick out when the job board cycles so quickly (remember, Get Me doesn’t do distance based dispatch pings like Uber or Lyft) and have their value prominently displayed as an extra disincentive for drivers to pick them up. He suggested that if Get Me could allow users to pre-add a tip on a short ride, it’d boost that ride’s ranking enough to maybe get someone to take it earlier. Fair enough…Fasten has pretty much exactly this concept, where users can voluntarily boost the pricing of their ride to get a driver to jump on it more quickly, which they feature instead of service-enforced demand based pricing.

One more thing I learned on the ride is that…as another side effect of the job board based system, Get Me’s car map reflects all drivers who have the app open (probably backgrounded), rather than drivers who are actually looking to give rides. This massively inflates the perceived driver supply versus reality, such that Riverside may well have been the location of the closest driver who was open and cared to give someone a ride at the time.

On a more positive note, the app held itself together quite well on a Monday night, indicating that Saturday’s disaster (see my previous post) was in fair part due to heavy system load. Doesn’t inspire confidence anywhere near peak periods though.

To be clear, Get Me suffers from a number of boneheaded architectural decisions when you compare their service with Uber’s or Lyft’s which have the net effect of decreasing passenger reliability and driver efficiency. And their nigh rates are well above what you’d pay for a taxi…though, okay, that’s comparing apples and lemons. But the service did get me home safely and reasonably quickly this evening, so in light of my last post I figured I needed to share this experience.

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