Uber X, Uber’s answer to a less pricey cab service, came out of its testing period for San Franciscans today, the city that has become obsessed with mobile-hailing.
Uber is an alternative to cabs in a number of cities, starting with San Francisco. The company provides a fleet of town cars, which cab be hailed through a mobile app. The app will not only let you order your town-car with the push of a button, it will also show you where the cabs are located, and let you pay for the ride with a credit card on file.
As expected, however, the town cars cost a premium over the regular cabs available on the street. The company’s Uber X product, however, has all the same perks of the mobile app, but instead employs limousine company owners and employees who will pick you up in hybrid cars or sedans that cost less money, thereby costing you less.
San Francisco was once the most expensive city for the original Uber service, so to remain competitive, the company decided to lower its base price as well as distance and time fees, bringing the entire cost down by 10 percent.
Uber does well in San Francisco specifically because of how difficult it is to hail a cab here. In places like New York City, where the cab systems are very efficient, Uber has had a much rockier start. The city told cab drivers that they could be fined if they joined up with Uber, though the company and the city have seemed to smooth over the issue.
Uber and other taxi-oriented companies such as Sidecar and Lyft have recently come under the scrutiny of lawmakers for their services. The California Public Utilities Commission recently fined the companies, for a number of reasons. In Lyft and Sidecar’s case, the CPUC was concerned about drivers not being certified to commercially drive passengers. In Uber’s case, however, the drivers are all certified because of their associations with previously established limousine companies. Instead, Uber may need to be certified as a “charter-party carrier,” which would regulate it in the same way its partners are.