I live in Bracknell, which is about 40 miles drive from London. Unfortunately there are a lot of events in London which means I end up in London in the evening. Until recently this has been inconvenient and/or rather costly so I have not been going to a lot of events. This has rather shown me the importance of these events for business, so I decided I should start going to more of them. This leaves me with a dilemma of how to get home...
Option 1: Last train
The obvious answer is to catch the last train. There is a direct train Waterloo to Bracknell, and the last train is around 23:30. It is slow (takes an hour), and for some reason SWT tend to lock the toilets, which is a pain if you have been drinking all evening. Of course this means watching the clock and leaving early. It is usually packed, and I decided long ago the only way to be vaguely comfortable, and have a table and power socket, is to go 1st class on that train, which is £21. Typically you need a taxi or tube or bus to Waterloo at around £5, and then a taxi home at the end for another £5. Of course there is a danger that you doze off, miss the station, and end up in Reading at 1am. It is, by far, the cheapest option though.
Total Cost: £31
Downside: Clock watching, leaving early, don't fall asleep.
Option 2: Hotel over night
Another option, which is usually sensible for two day events and I have done in the past for events I know will end late, is a hotel for the night. The issue is that a London hotel is at least £120, and more likely £180. You still need to get to the hotel (£5), and then from hotel to station in morning (£5), a train (£21) and taxi to work from station (£5). I normally get to work soon after 7am, but would be in much later if staying over night in London.
Total Cost: £156+
Downside: Taking overnight bag, not sleeping in own bed, late for work, expensive.
Option 3: Black cab home
What I ended up doing, before I stopped going to many events, was getting a black cab home. This is simple enough in London, though I have had problems on some occasions if not near a major road. I have had cabs around £150, but they got more and more expensive and now around £170. It does mean you end up at home in your own bed, and can sleep in the taxi, which is good. This was getting way too expensive. On top of which you usually are expected to give a tip, and getting a VAT receipt is a nuisance when you just want to get to bed.
Total Cost: £170
Downside: None really apart from the cost.
Option 4: Uber car
Last month I had a rather good dinner at the National Liberal Club with Jullian Huppert and a few friends. At the end of the night I was about to get a cab home, having resigned myself to the fact that this was a very expensive evening already (supporting Julian's re-election campaign), when John Benson said try Uber. He clicked the invite button, I followed the link, downloaded the app, put in card details and asked it for a quote to get home. It said £65! So I said yes, and it said 4 minutes and showed me where the car was on its way to me, registration number, name and picture of driver. The driver knew exactly where I was by GPS from my phone, my name and my mobile number. I got in, fell asleep, arrived home, job done. Quite specifically on their web site its says no need to tip him, all charged to the card. As I walked through my door my phone dinged with the emailed receipt from Uber. I have used it again, and again £65 and only 3 minutes wait. It just works!
Total Cost: £65
Downside: Still more than a train, but if there are two of us it is a no brainer.
Overall I have to say I am impressed, and it starts to make these events much more available. It is even cheaper than getting a hotel for a two day event if I get a car home and train back next morning! I far prefer sleeping in my own bed and not having hassle of taking an over night bag to an event. I can go with just myself and my mobile phone, which makes a change.
They also do a referral scheme where both of us get £10 credit. Just go to
uber.com/invite/wp7ru or use code wp7ru.
I'll be in London tonight, with two colleagues, making this cheaper than getting a train home as we can share one car.