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Uber's cheaper taxi service will help it stay on top in a competitive field
(Updated to reflect comment from Uber)
Uber has faced an uphill climb toward respectability, with multiple cities seeing the on-demand car-app service as a threat to their business. Cities such as New York and Washington D.C. have brought lawsuits against the company in order to stop it from being able to offer its services.
The company has come out ahead in these cases, though, most recently declaring victory when the Washington, D.C., city council unanimously voted to allow a new line of transportation apps that would let users hail rides from their mobile phones.
Now, over a month after winning that battle, Uber is expanding UberTAXI to Washington D.C., it was announced Monday. This means that people who use Uber will be able to choose from either one of the service's standard black sedans or choose a D.C. cab at the normal, and cheaper, rate.
The driver will go by the standard meter, adding in all tolls and surcharges, including the standard $2 dispatch fee. a 20% gratutity is automatically added in as well.
The black sedans will remain the default, so users have to make sure that they choose Taxi or else they will not get one. Supply will be limited at first, Uber says, and it is "curating our supply pretty carefully."
"Just like with our black car service, open up your Uber app and you can easily request a DC taxi, pay with your credit card, and do it all with just the tap of a button. In a nutshell, UberTAXI offers the reliability and convenience you expect from Uber at a lower cost, so you can pick exactly what kind of ride you need, whenever you need it," Uber wrote.
The ability to request a taxi car is also available in Boston, Chicago and Toronto. And it will likely be coming to New York City shortly.
In early December, though, the Commission voted to allow a year long pilot program that will let people in New York to use their phones to connect with yellow cab drivers.
Uber may be expanding its taxi service to Maryland and Virginia, telling people in those areas to "stay tuned for updates about when UberTAXI will be available to you."
"At Uber, we are always looking to provide our customers with the best transportation options. We will continue to explore new opportunities," an Uber spokesperson told VatorNews.
Uber's service, while popular, has also become known as both confusing and expensive. The more areas that Uber can expand its cheaper taxi service, the better it will be able to fend off rivals such as Hailo, which was reportedly set to raise a $30 million Series B round at a $140 million valuation last month. The new round would put Hailo's total funding above $50 million, just slightly ahead of Uber.
Founded in March 2009, the San Francisco-based Uber has operations in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, the Hamptons, London, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Paris, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, Toronto and Washington D.C.
The service is also available in Napa, Orange County and Vancouver but the website says this is for "secret Ubers only," whatever that means.
Uber raised a $32 million Series B in December, led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Goldman Sachs and Benchmark Capital, bringing its total raised to around $45 million.
(Image source: https://blog.uber.com)
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