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Uber 101: The Uber Driver Experience in the Chicago Area

James has been driving for Uber for a year in the Chicago area. Let experience and "street wisdom" guide you through a safe Uber experience.

Using UBER to get around logically makes sense.

Using UBER to get around logically makes sense.

What You Need to Qualify for Uber

Remember, Uber, as it keeps insisting, is a technology company, not a transportation company.

Uber does have a few rules when it comes to the automobile. Of course, it must be a 4-door passenger vehicle and it must not be the same make and model of law enforcement vehicles. In most cities, your car has to be 10 years old or newer. However, there are a few cities that allow 15 years old or newer.

Now you're going to need a special kind of car-insurance since you're now participating in a ride-share program. Understandable, since now you're going to have "paying passengers" in your vehicle. Ask your current auto-insurance agent for more details. Having this insurance is a "must".

Make sure your vehicle is in top performance condition. It will be inspected by professional auto experts that specialize in this sort of thing.

If not having a passenger vehicle is stopping you from giving Uber a try, Uber has an offer where you can "rent" a passenger vehicle with an automatic "pay-as-go" program from certain auto dealers close to you.

The newer & nicer the "ride" the better -- trust me.

The newer & nicer the "ride" the better -- trust me.

Before You Head Out: My Recommendation

Get noticed.

If it's one thing I've learned when driving through a city such as Chicago, make sure you're easily noticeable—especially at night. Bringing attention to yourself is a good thing when being an Uber Driver.

For instance, the passenger vehicle I use Uber in is olive green in color. So, I went to Amazon and purchased two LED lit signs that read "Uber". Of course, these LED lit signs were green in color to match the color of my olive green passenger vehicle.

I also purchased through Amazon an Uber sign that magnetically secures itself to the top of my passenger vehicle and it also lights up in green. It reads "Uber" on both sides. The style of this sign and the way it looks reminds me of the old taxi cab signs that were on top of the old yellow taxis you'd see in movies and TV sitcoms in the '70s and '80s.

I also had something installed that doesn't get noticed from the outside, but impresses people leaving the vehicle: a chain of green neon lights that run under the dash and under the driver and passenger seats.

No more do my passengers wonder where am I at. I stick out quite noticeably. I suggest that if you're thinking about driving for Uber or any other "ride-share program" you keep this tip in consideration.

Driving in the City

Driving through Chicago will not be as chaotic as many would like you to believe, thanks to the wonderful technology coming from Uber.

Driving through Chicago will not be as chaotic as many would like you to believe, thanks to the wonderful technology coming from Uber.

Don't get it wrong. You will have those days. Nothing is perfect.

However, Uber isn't that far from it.

Don't get me wrong, there are a few things more I wish the Uber app could provide, such as:

  • Giving local gas prices
  • Accounting for a driver is declining rides due to "bathroom breaks"
  • Allowing backtracking and other options on the Uber app when using the map between fares/rides

Uber does an awesome job finding the shortest and fastest route available. It considers traffic jams, road construction warnings, and even disabled vehicles when calculating the fastest/shortest route. However, you will have those days.

I don't care who you are, the traffic going to and from Soldier Field in Chicago (home to the Chicago Bears) is horrible. With that being said, taking fans to go see their beloved Chicago Bears pays pretty, pretty good. So, I don't complain... much.

While in Chicago and driving in "the Loop", expect a lot of short rides. They don't pay much, but they're quick and they count as a "ride" when you're participating in a "promotion". A promotion is simply a goal where a driver tries to complete as many rides in a certain amount of time for monetary gain.

Personal Experience With Uber Eats

I can't comment much. Although I did sign up for Uber Eats, I have not yet gotten a call.

What I can say, honestly, is that I have heard complaints about their pricing. I have heard that Uber has unbelievably high prices.

In Uber's defense, I would say that Uber Eats is more for large gatherings than for four 20-year-old video gamers sitting on a couch, zoning out to Fortnite, and getting the munchies.

The airports could could be a little intimidating, but don't worry, after a little while it'll be a piece-of-cake.

The airports could could be a little intimidating, but don't worry, after a little while it'll be a piece-of-cake.

Driving at O'Hare/Midway Airports: Constantly Moving

Keep it going.

Stop. Drop off/pick up. Unload/load up. Get out. That's pretty much the system when it comes to dealing with O'Hare and Midway airports. They don't play around at the terminal. It's all-business; nothing personal.

When picking up a rider at the airport, a Uber driver may have to circle the terminal several times before locating the rider. Being noticeable really helps in these situations. This is why I have an Uber sign on the roof of my passenger vehicle and two Uber light signs on either side of my two backside windows. All my Uber signs light up green to match the olive green color of my passenger vehicle.

When you do locate the rider:

  1. Get as close to the rider and curb as possible; drive slowly and carefully.
  2. Put the vehicle in park and unlock all the doors and hatches.
  3. Exit your vehicle to assist the rider.
  4. Make sure all items, hatches, doors, and passengers are secured
  5. Return to the vehicle, close the door, fasten your seat belt and exit the terminal.

Remember to be constantly moving.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 James Timothy Peters