Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast gets an Uber Education in Panama City!

Blog by Terry Richmeier

 

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It all started at Spanish class. During the Spanish class, conversation ensued with Manzar and his class mates about a short trip that the owners of Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast would be taking to Panama City…..

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Now if you know anything about me at all, you know that I prefer to fly instead of taking a bus across the country. I also do not enjoy “haggling” with taxi drivers over the price we are going to have to pay. Or even to wait for their arrival when after having struggled to schedule a pick-up on the phone with the dispatch person in my limited Spanish!

Manzar knew all this and so he set out to surprise me as he learned about an application to download to his smart phone. Side Note: If you don’t have a smart phone, time to get one as they are wonderful! The application is called Uber.com and has fantastic features such as GPS tracking of your driver, rating your driver and much more!

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So, how was our experience using this application? And, how was the service we received? How about the cost?

Let me start from the beginning? What is Uber? Uber Technologies Inc. is an American multinational online transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops, markets and operates the Uber mobile app, which allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars. As of May 28, 2015, the service was available in 58 countries and 300 cities worldwide.

Uber was founded as “UberCab” by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2009 and the app was released the following June. Beginning in 2012, Uber expanded internationally. In 2014, it experimented with carpooling features and made other updates. Klout ranked the San Francisco-based company as the 48th-most powerful company in America in 2014. By late-2015, Uber was estimated to be worth $62.5 billion.

The legality of Uber has been challenged by governments and taxi companies, who allege that its use of drivers who are not licensed to drive taxicabs is unsafe and illegal.

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Still, the company thrives and has especially expanded here in Panama City, Panama, as many more people pay less using the Uber system and the ride is comfortable and reliable.

So, downloading the application took only minutes and then there are literally three steps to getting this set up for use. 1 – Take a picture of yourself for your Uber driver to know who they are looking for. (Your phone number will be given to the driver and the driver’s phone number will be given to you through this application. Tracking on both sides insures safety.) 2- Give your email address for your statements of cost and usage to be sent to you. 3- Take a picture of your credit or debit card and funds are taken out safely from your account without any money exchanging hands. Sweet!

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Ok, so we begin, we submitted our first trip from the airport to our hotel. The cost was significantly less than a taxi which was good so far ($26 even during the rush hour as compared to the $35 we are used to paying). Next – just how long will we wait? Within a few seconds we received a call from the driver to inform us that he is on his way. The license plate, name, phone number, and photo of the driver all popped up on our phone. Wow, we felt a lot better!  Within a few minutes of the request our driver was there! He helped us place our luggage in the trunk of the late model SUV. (By the way, you can order an Economy, Premium, Accessibility, and carpool vehicles.) The vehicle was very nice, clean and the driver was extremely calm during the crazy driving of the city! We arrived safely at our hotel and we rated this driver high! He did a dang good job and was friendly as can be! We felt completely safe and at ease.

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This was the beginning for us of a stress free mini vacation as we took the Uber to the malls, and the restaurants and to our friend’s home! We found it to be fun and exciting! We even took the Uber to Taco Bell! Ok, ok, so we went a little crazy but it was so easy, and felt wonderful to get around a complicated city with ease. Each and every driver was amazingly friendly with clean cars and great personalities. We would typically receive a phone call from each person to let us know they are on the way. Even without the phone call we could see the movement of the driver on the map of the Uber app as he/she progressed toward us!

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I wondered about all these drivers and how they like working for the Uber system. I am happy to report back that all the drivers we talked to have been very happy working for the company. Some work full time and others do it to make extra money in addition to their “day jobs”. They choose their own hours and seem to make good money doing this. They reported meeting really great people from all over the world and even locally! One driver told us that there are approximately 1000 Uber drivers in Panama City area.

I recently read an article from Canada where Uber is taking the wheelchair bound citizens through a program called UberAssists New ‘door-to-door’ service will cost the same as standard Uber trips. You can read more about that here:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/uber-assist-ottawa-1.3507585

 

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There is a whole new world out there for us as we travel to different countries and around the world, this is a budget-friendly and wonderful way to get around when you are away from home!

We are hoping that Uber will come all the way to David and Boquete, Panama, and will be available for you one day during your trip to Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast! Until then, send us an email, or call and we can help you with your transportation needs!

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