App operation screen shots (via UBER)
Catch a cab directly from your smart phone. Uber, the company that brought the public a convenient method for luxury transportation, will be testing a new service in Chicago. Customers will be able to request a taxi ride through an app created for their smart phone. Cab drivers will be notified through an alert sent to their phone and will use a GPS system to determine the customer's location. Conversely, customers using the app will be able to see the cab's location through the same system.
Uber began its business in 2009, offering customers an easily accessible high-end transportation option. Starting in San Francisco, Uber gradually began to expand its business into more areas including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington D.C., Paris, and Chicago. In addition, when they first began they worked by receiving text messages, and in 2010 launched their mobile app. The customer's fare gets charged directly to their debit card or credit card they have setup and includes a 20% tip. For their luxury service, which includes Lincoln Town cars, BMWs, and Cadillac Escalades, customers can expect to pay 50% to 75% more than they would for a taxi fare. However, their taxi service looks to reduce this cost and make the service more appealing for everyday commuters.
Chicago was designated to be their test location due to its high volume of cabs. Chicago features more cabs per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Moreover, they also have the second lowest rates in the nation second only to Washington D.C. The fare charged to customers will be calculated by a time and distance system. While traveling more than 11mph the fare will depend on the distance traveled, and when traveling less than that it will be determined on a timely basis. Uber looks to create a more convenient and accessible system to catch a cab. Although taxis are plentiful, having a reserved one come to you using the advantage of smart phone technology will offer a unique option to the city commuters.