InTrans / Jan 27, 2016

So, what’s the deal with Uber?

Go! Magazine

Man standing next to carposted on January 27, 2016

Uber is one of the fastest growing car services in the United States and is rapidly expanding across the globe.

For better or for worse, Uber is married to this new generation of commuters. But the true question is this: Can Uber be the future of travel?

What is Uber?

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Uber Technologies Inc. (otherwise known as simply “Uber”) runs the mobile app, which allows consumers to submit a trip request via their smartphone. The trip request is routed to Uber drivers, who use their cars to navigate app-using passengers to their pre-programmed destinations. Uber is located in 187 cities across the United States, including both cities large and small.

Uber drivers

First, let’s focus in on Uber drivers. Did you know that Uber drivers get roughly 80 percent of every fare they earn?

Drivers and passengers alike rely on the Uber app to get from Point A to Point B
Drivers and passengers alike rely on the Uber app to get from Point A to Point B. Photo from Uber.

UberX is the low cost option for the Uber rider, with the cheapest base fare, per minute fare, and per mile fare. To put it simply, uberX is the best option for a thrifty consumer, and the most available Uber service across the globe. UberX drivers use their own vehicles. They are not licensed chauffeurs, and are not required to get “vehicles for hire” licenses, but the drivers most go through background checks.

When asked, 97 percent of drivers were satisfied with the flexibility of their schedule and 81 percent of Uber drivers said they were satisfied with their experience overall. That’s probably because Uber drivers get to pick their own hours! Drivers can use the app to earn their driving fares whenever it works into their schedule. 1

Uber driving services

The bigger the city means more Uber drivers, and that means more driving service options overall.

So consumers in cities like New York, Chicago, and Seattle, which have a denser population and therefore more activity, have more choices for Uber cars to accommodate this big city culture.

Uber meets Chicago

Let’s take a closer look at the Uber driving services in Chicago, the third largest city in the United States.

Chicago currently has six different types of Uber cars available, including an easy to get taxi called “uberTAXI.” This option involves using the Uber mobile app to hail a cab, which has a two dollar booking fee with gratuity automatically added for the driver. The passenger is responsible to pay the driver aside from the booking fee to Uber.

Other choices for Uber rides include uberX, UberSELECT, uberXL, UberSUV, and UberBLACK.

“UberBLACK” has passengers riding in style.
“UberBLACK” has passengers riding in style. Photo from Uber.

Want to ride in style? UberBLACK is known as “the original Uber,” a premium option, including luxury features. UberBLACK is over four times more expensive than uberX in Chicago. Drivers for UberBLACK are licensed chauffeurs of black sedans and SUVS. With the UberBLACK car service, a passenger can expect to be picked up in a Lincoln, Cadillac, or Mercedes town car!

And then there is UberSELECT, the new luxury uberX. Available almost exclusively in larger cities, UberSELECT is a “mid-tier” option for riders looking for an affordable luxury experience.

UberXL, a six-passenger vehicle, is basically uberX for larger groups of passengers. Just slightly more expensive than uberX, uberXL is a thrifty way to ride with friends.

UberSUV, another six-passenger car service, is the luxury version of uberXL (just as UberBLACK is a luxury alternative to uberX). UberSUV has the largest base fare of any Uber ride. UberSUV can warrant a variety of luxury vehicles including Cadillac Escalades, Chevy Suburbans, and GMC Denalis.

From history to future

So where did this all start?

The idea for Uber came in 2008 when co-founder Travis Kalanick was in Paris on a snowy night and couldn’t get a cab. Kalanick was stuck without an easy way home but was given a golden idea: a service that redirects drivers to those who need a ride. In June 2010, Uber was launched in San Francisco, California.

Uber began as a luxury car service. It was used by drivers on their downtime when they weren’t booked for higher-end groups. In 2012, Uber launched uberX, which made utilizing Uber easier for both drivers and passengers.



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By Hannah Postlethwait, Go! Staff Writer

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