Friday Question of the Day – What Form of Transportation Do You Usually Use to Get Home Late Night?

Photo by PoPville flickr user number7cloud

It seems like every time I post about taxis there is an extremely vocal reaction in support of Uber. But via email and in personal conversations I hear lots of folks who are not completely thrilled with Uber so I thought it’d make a good poll. For this poll let’s just focus on late night, which I guess is rather arbitrary, say 10:30pm or later – how do you get home usually? I realize that different evenings sometimes require different types of transport – but for this poll let’s just say in general which you use most often. And for those who will give a bit more detail/explanation in the comments – I’d be curious to know your age to see if there is any type of correlation there.

118 Comment

  • Why no option for stay over + walk of shame?

  • It depends on where I’m coming from and how late (and if there is alcohol involved). Preference is bike, bus, metro then taxi. I don’t use Uber or Lyft and don’t drive in the city.
    Almost 20 years in DC and taking cabs on a regular basis with zero issues so I see no reason to switch to uber or a similar service.

    • Uber smells better. Seriously.

      • I have no complaints with the smell of DC cabs. How do you think uber smells better? Air freshener smell?

        • As near as i can tell it is soap and water.

          • You clearly haven’t taken enough uberx rides. Some are great but some are awful. I once got a ride home from an uber guy I swear hadn’t showered in a week.

          • Yeah, the quality of uber cars has definitely dwindled. It used to be that I could consistently count on Uber for new, meticulously clean cars (both UberX and UberTaxi), but lately I’ve been in a few that weren’t that great – pretty clean but definitely older cars, just not as nice. I still think it’s better than most cabs, but not as great as it used to be. The only time I hail cabs now is if I’m in front of my office and in a hurry. UberX is cheaper and I’d much rather request a car or taxi and have a guaranteed ride than test my luck trying to hail one on the street (assuming I’m in an area where cabs pass regularly).

      • palisades

        Oh boy that’s just not true. I’ve had more than a couple Ubers that smelled like straight BO. I felt like I was in a Seinfeld episode

    • You’ve been in DC for 20 years and had zero issues. You must: 1) be white, 2) live in a neighborhood where cab drivers are willing to drive to since they will be able to pick up a fare on the way back as opposed to a more remote neighborhood that cabbies often refuse to drive to, 3) be over 40 years old at the least, of a generation that is more prone to carry cash with you at all times, as opposed to the younger generations that primarily use their card, 4) not drink, since cabbies will frequently try and drive alternate, longer routes if they sense you’ve had any amount of alcohol so as to jack up the fares.

      I’ve been in DC for 5 years, and have numerous instances of cabbies refusing to drive me places, refusing to take my card, try and negotiate a much higher fare than what is legal, and try to scam me by driving out of the way to jack up the fare.

      • “be over 40 years old at the least, of a generation that is more prone to carry cash with you at all times, as opposed to the younger generations that primarily use their card”

        I get that people don’t like to carry large amounts of cash and/or use their card to accumulate points/whatever, but how hard is it to keep a $20 bill somewhere on your person for cab fare?

        • Accountering

          It is quite hard. I do not carry cash, because I don’t need too. If I get in a DC cab, I would expect them to have a working credit card reader, because they are required too.

        • justinbc

          I keep a $20 folded and stashed behind my ID at all times just in the event I’m ever at a place that’s cash only.

      • 1) No (not white)
        2) Yes (live in central location)
        3) No (not over 40 and hardly ever carry cash)
        4) No (or yes, because I do drink and that’s when I typically take taxis)

      • Also 5) male, because I have never met a woman in Washington who didn’t have a story about a cabbie being creepy, inappropriate or aggressive. And WAY too many of them have actually been raped by a cabbie.

        • 5) Female. And I’ve never heard from my female friends instances of cab drivers being creepy, inappropriate, aggressive. None, as far as I know, have been raped.
          I understand other women have had very different experiences.
          I believe that the majority of cab drivers are hardworking men (and women, but mostly men) trying to make a living and treating passengers with respect.

          • “I believe that the majority of cab drivers are hardworking men (and women, but mostly men) trying to make a living and treating passengers with respect.”

    • Agree. Also, lately almost every cab I’ve been in is also an Uber driver. There really isn’t that much of a difference between cabs and Uber at this point. The only change I’ve made in 25 years in DC is now I will take Car2go to get to my destination and then cab home.

    • Uber is
      1) Cheaper
      2) Faster
      3) More convenient
      4) Less awkward because the tip is built in

      • 1. Uber is cheaper? I don’t think so.
        2. Faster than walking out to the street, holding out your hand and having a cab pull over? How can Uber be faster than this?
        3. More convenient? How so?
        4. Frankly I’ve never found tip giving to be awkward, ever.

  • My car. I love it. It doesn’t deny me a ride home when I’m black, I don’t need to wait for it to arrive, and runs all hours of the night.

    • it’s very fortunate that you don’t drink then!

      • Well one can drink and maintain self control. Sipping on 1 drink an hour or so or drinking for a bit then stopping are easy to do. I guess if those things are difficult for you, I’m glad you’re not driving.

        • Apologies for the presumption. And I’m glad I don’t have a car either. Nothing to do with drinking though.

        • 1 drink is too much if you’re a small woman. But if you’re a large man you can probably get away with it.

  • Please remember that Uber has a very aggressive Internet presence, and they often taint any posts involving them online. Always question what you read about them.

    • justinbc

      Shouldn’t you question what you read about anyone?

    • +10000 I’m sure that Uber is a lovely service and all, but the aggressiveness of the Uber cheerleading has always struck me as a bit off.

      • I don’t know if it’s aggressive cheerleading for Uber as much as it is years of frustrations with cabs and finally having a better option. Uber is probably the most popular, but I think most of the Uber cheerleading would equally apply to Hailo, Lyft, etc. Basically, any service that gives users a better, more economical, and more accountable option than traditional taxis.

        • None of the other services have the internet presence and pushback against any perceived negative that Uber does. It has always struck me as the same kind of culty groupthink that puts me off of things like Crossfit and the paleo diet. There are people who like them and people who don’t, and that’s OK.

          • Or maybe people just like Uber.

          • That’s a good comparison. I also like comparing it to politics where people are very outspoken in support of a candidate simply because they want “anyone but [bad politician].” Here, people like Uber because it’s not a cab. I think if people really analyzed the differences, they would realize that Uber isn’t as good as they think.
            Why do people turn a blind eye to surge pricing? Why do they ignore press about Uber deliberately sabotaging its competitors to drive them out of business?

      • Me too. I use UberX sometimes and it’s fine, but the amount of almost blind praise is out of hand.

        • Maybe the “praise” isn’t “blind”. If you’re in a demographic group that has relatively few problems with cabs, you might, indeed, not see too much of a difference between one car service such as Uber and another. If you’ve had trouble hailing cabs on the street, trouble being taken where you want to go, trouble getting your form of payment accepted, and other negative experiences, then Uber, by contrast, might feel like an extremely positive experience compared to taking cabs.

          • Actually, I am a black woman, and yes, I’ve had problems with cabs. As I said, I use Uber and I prefer it to cabs, but I’m wary of the echo chamber effect that seems to have taken hold here. For instance, I’ve been sexually harassed by an Uber driver, and I’ve been in smelly Ubers before. This hasn’t stopped me from using Uber, but I do think it’s made me more skeptical than others.

  • If I am somewhere close to home or where I feel really safe, I’ll walk. Otherwise I use Hailo. Not sure what I’ll do when they close. 🙁 Cabbies can be sketchy, but Uber has had reports of similar issues for female customers, so I don’t feel safe using them, either.

    • The only Uber issue I heard of in DC got thrown out, as the accuser didn’t appear to be honest. I’m not saying Uber drivers are less sketchy people than cab drivers, but I would feel safer with Uber since everything, including GPS, is recorded. A taxi driver can force you into a scary situation, but it would take a pretty stupid Uber driver to think they can get away with anything.

    • As a woman, I feel much safer in an Uber than in a taxi. I don’t think there will ever be any situation that is 100% safe for a woman, but of the options, Uber has the most accountability/traceability of its drivers.

      • Same here. I’d stopped taking taxis after being sexually assaulted by drivers a couple times, but I’m starting to take Ubers occasionally now. Seems like there’s a lot more accountability and the drivers seem to have more respect for women overall.

        • This comment blows my mind. How have people been assaulted by cab drivers multiple times? I consider myself a reasonably attractive female who has taken more cabs than I care to admit. I’ve had a couple of cab drivers flirt a little bit, but they’ve quickly stopped when I made it clear I didn’t want that.

          • You do get that sexual assault is something very different from flirting, right? And that your perceived attractiveness and violence aren’t necessarily correlated, right? Smh

          • Perhaps I wasn’t clear. I understand the difference between flirting and sexual assault but I wonder of this person does. I find it hard to believe that one person has been sexually assaulted multiple times by a cab driver.

          • Wow, Annon@ 11:55 and 12:21, your second comment manages to be even more insulting than the first. Just because YOU aren’t aware of any instances of this happening to someone doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

          • So, someone states that they’ve been sexually assaulted more than once. Because YOU haven’t been sexually assaulted and you consider yourself to be “reasonably attractive”, you’ve apparently decided to suggest that the OP wasn’t sexually assaulted and perhaps doesn’t “understand the difference between flirting and sexual assault”. Your clarification is actually worse than your original statement and assumptions. Still smh.

          • +1 to Anonymous 12:11’s remark from 12:38 pm.

      • By the same token, as a woman I do not feel safe using Uber when I’m being picked up at home. I’m not comfortable with a driver having my phone number, name, and home address, even if he’s traceable.

        • Except he only has your first name. The only address they get is the one you put in, so you could always move the pin a few doors down, and the number they get is a dummy number that forwards to your actual phone number.

        • Yeah Uber has that info, not the drivers. Same way that the drivers don’t have your credit card info…

    • +1. I love hailo.

      • Too bad they shut down their US operations, I also liked them. The Hailo fee was only $1 to hail a normal cab, none of this surge pricing garbage that doubles the price of a normal ride :-/
        I also use Taxi Magic, but they have less drivers in the system.

  • My experiences with Uber have been a driver blasting a sports game I could have cared less about and me having to give point by point directions to other drivers who clearly had no clue how to get around the District.

    So far, very negative Uber experience.

    • justinbc

      Was that Uber or UberX? An Uber driver should know where he’s going, or at the very least have your route sent to his GPS already.

      • palisades

        The app has made it even easier for all forms of uber to have your destination plugged in and ready to go. What I’ve noticed though, is a hesitation from the drivers to follow their GPS and then ask me which route I prefer. I don’t know, follow the damn GPS!

    • As opposed to the taxi drives screaming into his phone and going the most roundabout way to got you to your destination?

    • I’ve had those very same experiences in a cab.

  • Never understood all the hate for taxis in DC. I’ve taken dozens of rides over the last 15 years, and had only one bad experience. They are also cheaper here than almost any other city I’ve been to.

    • I think the fact that you can’t pay with a credit card is a big issue…and yes, its still a problem now even though they’re all supposed to have credit card readers. I’ve been yelled at in a cab over my form of payment. No thanks!

    • justinbc

      I’ve never had a bad experience here, but I do understand the hate, having many black and/or female friends who’ve had really negative experiences themselves.

    • I have had many bad experiences, and I’m a white male. I can only imagine what others have to deal with. Maybe the next few times, try getting in the cab before you tell them where your going. See how many of them will lock their doors and speed right off.

      • Isn’t it common practice to get in the cab and then tell the driver your destination?

        • justinbc

          That’s what I’ve always done. Why would you ever ask “can you take me there?” That’s their job description.

        • Some of them will lock the doors and ask you through the open windows where you’re going before letting you into the cab. That’s happened to me quite a few times.

          • +1000
            We’d have to fake out cabs just to get service. Get the whitest person (usually blond/blue chick) to hold your arm until the cab pulls up then open the door and shove you in while she walks off. This is why I almost always drive to go out.

          • Agreed. I try to get in first, but they will often lock their doors and ask where you’re going before you get in. Happened again just a few weeks ago – we explained to the cab driver that this is why they are losing so much business to Uber. I tried to get enough info on the cab to file a complaint, but he sped off before I could get his plate no.

          • EXACTLY. Yeah, I’d love to just get in and tell them where to go, but I have OFTEN had cabs lock the doors and ask me where I’m going. I’ve had drivers deny me at least twice when in the cab, and I’ve just stood my ground. At least then there’s something I can do, you’re kind of SOL if you can’t even get in. I would never ask if they could take me somewhere, but they have on several occassions refused to take me to Capitol Hill, and I’m not talking debatable Capitol Hill, like RFK or something; I live four blocks south east of Union Station. I don’t know if they still do this, since I probably haven’t hailed more than five cabs in the last 2.5 years, but it was a common occurrence a few years ago. I was once denied three times in one night in Adams Morgan. And FWIW, I’m a young white (looking at least) female.

          • This has happened to me too. As well as taking me the wrong route because they assume I’m too drunk to realize what they’re doing

            I’ve also had multiple cab drivers complain outloud to me because they realized they would have to make a U-Turn to take me to my destination. Turning is part of driving so if driving people around is your job you’ll probably have to do it sometimes.

        • As a black female, I’ve found — in multiple cities — that it’s not always this easy. “Where are you going?” The cab driver will ask/demand BEFORE unlocking the car door. And then, if they don’t like my answer, they speed off. Because I’ve had some bad experiences with cabs, as nasty as it is when they refuse to take me where I want to go, I always feel like I’ve dodged a bullet — since being locked in a car with an angry stranger is not a situation that always works out well.

    • Let’s see:
      1. Not being able to get a cab because you’re Black.
      2. Not being able to get a cab because you live far away.
      3. No cc in many cabs.
      4. No receipts.
      5. Women being assaulted. I know someone who was physically thrown from a cab because she dared to question the fare structure.
      Did I miss any?

    • I haven’t had any flat-out terrible experiences in cabs — no assaults or anything like that — but I’d say 5-10% of my D.C. cab rides have had negative elements. When D.C. was still under the zone system, I had drivers who would opt for a route that took more zones than necessary. One cabdriver tried to charge me for luggage when I had a bag next to me on the seat.
      I had a REALLY negative experience with a driver from the Highland cab company — I think Highland number 100-something — that I no longer remember the details of, but I remember being afraid that he might not take me to my destination. I was trying to get from Adams Morgan (I think) to the Freer Gallery on a Friday night to see a movie, and it was during evening rush hour. I was upset enough that I made a note of the cab company name and meant to complain about it, but didn’t.

      • justinbc

        Compared to other service industries I would say a 5-10% negative rate is actually pretty good. My only real complaint with cabs is that it’s always been difficult to tell when they’re charging you fees and for how much, because they never actually tell you, you just see an amount at the end. I rarely ever use Uber, but at least when I do I always know exactly what I’m going to pay and what it’s for.

      • “Negative” is too soft a word. I probably should’ve said “shyster-y”; 5-10% of the time the taxi driver was trying to cheat me in some way.

      • I use cabs at least 3 or 4 times a week and have about the same 10% perceived rip-off occurrence. My main complaint is that there’s such inconsistency and shadiness about using cabs – essentially misbehavior that proper regulation should eliminate. Sometimes it’s phantom charges (bag fees, trunk fees, gas fees, extra passenger fees, credit card fees, i-cant-work-the-meter fees, whatever), sometimes its round-about routes, sometimes its general surliness/loud phone talking and radios/no ac. So, I guess it’s the general annoyance of having to be an assertive customer when cabbies should be held to a higher standard by the cab regulatory agency of the city. Things are improving, but there is a lot that could be better.

  • When I lived in Woodley Park, and even Chevy Chase DC (Military and Nebraska), I’d metro/walk, even with the latter being over a mile away. Now that I live in Brightwood, I only drive or park at a metro/drive if I’ll be downtown. I’d rather not drink and be able to rely on my car than have a fun, wild night.

  • We usually will Uber. But, unlike many Popville denizens, we are in our 40s with an elementary school child, so more often than nopt we’ll go our for an early dinner and are bome by 9:00. But when we go out for an adult evening, I don’t want to worry about how many drinks I’ve had. If it’s close to home we’ll walk. It’s just so much easier to sit in a restaurant or bar, pay the check, hail an Uber, and go outside when it’s pulling up than it it to go outside and try to hail a taxi.

  • We *try* to metro–that is if we can time it right, we’ll take it. We like to save money where we can. If we have to wait more than 10 minutes then I look at Uber, but if there are surcharges I hail a cab!

    • +100 I’ll often take Car2Go on the way out if I’m going someplace across town, and then UberX on the way back if I’m drunk (or Car2Go if I’m sober).

  • I try and take public transportation home. But if it’s really late, and the buses are not running frequently, I take UberX. If I have cash I’ll hail a cab.

  • justinbc

    My most common method is walking home, but that’s mainly because I live between H Street and Barracks Row, so I find myself out drinking / eating there more than anywhere else (same method applied when I lived in Logan Circle too). I’m definitely a neighborhood bar kinda guy. Whenever I do find myself somewhere else though I usually just Metro home, since if it’s not Metro accessible I probably won’t be there to begin with.

    • +1
      Add in some Car2Go, as well, if I haven’t been drinking but have to go somewhere further than the local ‘hood to see a friend (ex. dinner party, birthday party, etc.)

  • Typically bicycle unless i am out on H st or Barracks row in which case i walk

    • justinbc

      I will usually BikeShare to my destination, but I don’t like to ride home tipsy 🙂

      • i always use my personal bike.
        makes the night so easy imo, i can go from bar to bar with my transportation right out front
        or can shoot to another neighborhood with ease

  • jim_ed

    I take the bus, even late night, unless there’s a 15 minute+ headway. At that point I’ll jump in a cab or call an uber depending on where I’m at.

  • I generally bus or metro both are a short walk from my place. If I’m close enough I’ll walk, but generally later at night I’ll bus/metro over walking. Rarely I do uber/taxi.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I usually metro b/c it’s the easiest. I can literally metro in my sleep, so I have no problem doing it after a drink or two. I’m also like Justin, if it’s not my neighborhood, or metro accessible, I’m not there.

  • Shouldn’t there be a distinction between professional Uber drivers and UberX? I never take UberX but I do use the other options from time to time.

  • I usually bus if I’m not too far from the bus lines I like. They both drop me off within a block of my place. If I’m not near those I would probably metro, but sometimes I Uber if I’m feeling really lazy or I would have to change trains during track work.

  • It would be nice if Metro’s weekend track work didn’t render it completely useless on Friday and Saturday nights. I’ll walk if it’s a mile or two and I’m with my husband. Otherwise, Uber all the way.

    • Agreed – I live on the red line, and the last time I used Metro on a weekend (yet another one of those “trains every 22 minutes” weekends) I ended up waiting 35 minutes for the next train. What should’ve been a 10 minute ride ended up taking me 45 minutes.

  • I hardly ever post in these but here goes. Late at night I prefer a cab (assuming I’m in a populated neighborhood). The reason is because my night vision isn’t the best and I find it really awkward and weird to try to figure out which car is my Uber in the dark and I would also prefer not to be using my phone on the street. So I find it must simpler to hail a cab.

    If I’m in a quieter neighborhood with no cabs I find it easier to use Uber because I don’t have to pick my car out of a line of traffic – it’s most likely my car just by default that there aren’t many cars on the road. And I’m more comfortable using my phone and that it won’t be snatched out of my hand.

    I have no life, though, so I’m hardly ever out late. 😉

  • The 90 buses drop off right in front of my house, so that works great if I’m out at U Street, H Street, or Adams Morgan. Plus the late-night crowd on those buses is always highly entertaining. But if I’m elsewhere I’ll usually do Uber.

    • The 90 buses go to H Street, as in H Street NE??

      • Yes, they go down 8th St, NE and there’s a stop at 8th and H. It’s a really long bus route. I’ve had some sketchy experiences on the 90 buses, but they are still my favorite. You see so many different sides of DC all in one route.

        • Only problem is that the 8th and H stop is not the nicest place in the world to be waiting for a bus. Hopefully that will change soon though. And at least it’s never a long wait.

      • H Street all the way down Barracks Row and over the 11th Street Bridge into Anacostia. It really is a great route for seeing the city.

  • Metro: For me, this has consistently felt like my safest, most reliable option. If Metro were open later during the week, that would very much enhance the quality of my life. For more far-flung adventures, I rely on friends with cars, and use Barwood cabs — which I’ve had very good experiences with — as a back-up option. I feel very lucky that I have access to Barrwood — since many of my experiences with DC based cabs have been miserable.

  • I bike. If I’m drunk, then I walk, or put my bike on the bus.

  • Depending how far from home I am, I’ll most likely use Uberx. If you’re in an area that doesn’t get a lot of cabs, it’s a life saver and is always cheaper than a cab. My only issue with Uber though is that the drivers do not know the city well at all. They depend on their GPS and it often isn’t the best route. This makes watching them on the app try to get to you for pick up extremely frustrating at times. In the past I’d just cancel it, but now they can charge you for that after 5 minutes.

    • Yeah, that’s annoying, especially if you’re in a hurry, but they don’t charge you for that time. Cabs don’t often pass in front of my place, so it still ends up being more convenient….usually.

  • I take UberX all the time (several rides per week) and I have pretty much never had a bad experience. I find the drivers to be really nice and friendly, the cars to be clean, and now that you can input your destination in to the app (and it remembers my house address), no more worrying about directions. And it’s SO CHEAP. Honestly sometimes the difference between UberX and the metro is just a couple dollars. I KNOW I sound like I’m paid off by the company but I promise I’m not, I post here often.

    Oh I should add that like many others, I go out in my neighborhood more often than not (or nearby neighborhoods) so I probably walk more than anything. But I’m talking about non-walkable cases.

    • +1 I’ve lived here 15 years and had a few sketchy cab experiences but never a problem with Uber. I use Uber 1-4 times/week. Also, I don’t understand why people are upset about the directions thing. If I don’t know the best way to go, I get an Uber taxi because taxi drivers know the city. If I do know the best way (which I usually do after being here 15 years), I have always found UberX drivers to be happy for me to give them directions. Win-win!

  • nightborn

    Uber all the way. Yes, there are bad people everywhere and I’m aware I’m still at risk. But as a petite, young-looking female, the number of times I have been inappropriately spoken to by DC cab drivers far exceeds the number of times I’ve felt uncomfortable in an Uber vehicle. At least with Uber I have a license plate on record if something happens. I’ve also never had an Uber drive me out of the way and in circles the way some DC cabs have.

  • If it’s too far to walk I usually take Uber black there and a cab home. I’m a middle aged white guy, so hailing cabs on the street isn’t usually a problem. I don’t use UberX or Lyft ever.

  • Age: 36. Live on a good bus route, so we’ll often use the bus if the times are convenient. (Gotta love NextBus). Otherwise it’s Uber or UberX all the way. Over the last few months I’ve tried giving the cabs a chance. I’d say 2 out of the last 3 times I’ve had a problem. Once the driver would not let me in the cab because he didn’t want to go to Petworth, and another time the card reader was “broken” and I had to pay cash.
    I have noticed that the quality of UberX has gone down a bit. The drivers need to be directed (often I will tell them to just use the GPS) and/or the cars aren’t as new. But the convenience and the cost trump trying to deal with DC cabs.
    Many of the news complaints focus on surge pricing. I have no problem with surge pricing, as long as they are clear about when it is in effect and the cost. Good ol’ supply and demand.

  • We typically use Uber to get downtown (since there is not a taxi readily available near our house) and then flag a taxi for the ride home. We’re thirty somethings with a toddler….

  • At 10:30, on a weeknight, I’d take metro, and then walk about 3/4 mile home from the Takoma metro station. If closer to midnight or on the weekend, which is rare for me, I’d take a bus (gets me closer to my house than metro) or taxi, depending on circumstances. The walk home from the metro station isn’t great later at night or on the weekend.

  • I use Uber if the app tells me the wait will be 3 minutes or less. More than that, and I’ll walk or take a cab.

  • skj84

    I guess it depends on how late. If it’s before midnight/3am on weekends, Metro. After that, Uber. I am a recent convert to Uber. I know it’s not a perfect service, but it’s way more convenient than trying to catch a cab. Plus, I have no issue using my credit card.

  • I’ve done UberX on a few occasions and it is definitely cheaper than a cab, but I too don’t quite get the love affair with the experience. I get weary of playing “find the UberX car” in a sea of traffic, watching 10 cabs pass by and then having to exchange a confused phone call with the driver. But maybe I’m just not doing it right?

  • I bikeshare almost all the time, but I also walk quite a bit. If I’m going home, I don’t mind doing either in the rain or snow because I’m just going to bed.

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