Even with the lack of proper public transportation, getting around Lebanon is fairly easy. You call one of the many taxi companies available, use the Uber app, or just wait on the street and hail a red-licensed service car. Each has its unique advantages and disadvantages.

By now most people already know how Uber works: you download the application and pinpoint your location on a map. You can see the Uber drivers closest to your location and see his/her picture, vehicle type, license plate number, etc. Once you decide on a driver and they accept you will be told exactly when they will arrive to pick you up. Best of all, its completely cashless—you just need a credit card to set everything up.

But if you prefer to live a more analog life, standing on the street and waiting for a car with a red license plate is the way to go. Unlike Uber, the driver of the service won’t have access to your house location or favorite local hangouts. And unlike Uber he won’t be able to rate you or you rate him on the quality of his driving. Taking a service leaves no digital footprint, which may prove useful depending on your circumstances.

On the other hand, negotiating a price with the service can send your cortisol levels sky rocketing. But even still, you will probably end up paying quite a bit less than the standardized rate that Uber charges.

Part of the fun in taking a service is the crazy interactions you have with the random people who also get into the car— it is one of the few remaining “public” spaces in the city. Not to mention how hilarious many of the drivers can be.

Just today, I was sitting in the backseat of a 1975 Mercedes Benz service and the 80-year-old driver stopped in front of a woman waiting on the street. She said “service cola” (a busy intersection) and he rolled down the window and said, “Pepsi!” before driving off. I doubt anything like that would happen with Uber.

The bottom line is that Uber cars are still way more expensive than your average service, so we'll probably trade comfort for economics on this one.


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I once ordered an Uber taxi to the airport, by the time they replied I had already been to Amsterdam (after going to Turkey). I don't recommend it at all.

Abir Chami on Dec 2, 2015 via web