Getting a cab in any major city can be an exercise in futility, especially if it’s at peak times. San Francisco is such a city, and hence the inception of a service called Uber.
The services allows anyone with a smartphone to digitally hail a black car, or a variation there of. And that’s not all that it does. It offers a frictionless payment experience, by requiring you, the user, to enter and store a credit card on file. Enter the car, drive to your location, get out and you’re done. Your driver runs a different, but comparable app that tracks distance and time, and then in turn calculates the final fare. At peak times, such as 10pm on a Friday night, you’ll sometimes pay 1.25 to 2x the cost over the normal fair, which is Uber’s way of addressing the supply and demand conundrum. Peak or off peak the service is expensive, with a minimum $8 fee (in Los Angeles) attached to any ride, regardless of distance.
But now there is an alternative, albeit in San Francisco. Much like Taxi Magic – an app that lets you hail a cab without making a phone call – the Uber iOS or Android app can now “call” a yellow cab for you. And instead of paying the cab driver directly with a credit card, or cash, they’ll enter the final fare shown on the meter into the Uber app. Your final bill will include the fair, a $1 booking fee, and 20% gratuity.
Of note, Uber officially rolled out this service yesterday, and it’s currently only available in San Fran, home to the company. However, this isn’t their first attempt at offering the Taxi hailing service. Uber just announced that they’re shutting down the service in New York City after the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission said that current city regulations prevent Uber from processing credit cards for yellow cabs.
Update: the service is also available in Boston.