[tabi] Uber Technologies brings ride service to Tallahassee

  • From: mccaulo@xxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:37:57 -0400 (EDT)

Here is an article from today's Tallahassee Democrat. I would be curious to hear from anyone who has successfully used Uber. On the surface it seems like something that could be quite useful to those of us who don't drive.

Dave Hodges, Tallahassee Democrat:

Uber Technologies Inc., the San Francisco company whose mobile application consumers can use to book rides, began operating Thursday in Tallahassee, giving residents yet another way to get around.

With the addition of Tallahassee and Gainesville, the company now has seven cities it serves in Florida. While he did not have an exact number of Uber-approved drivers in Tallahassee, company spokesman Taylor Bennett said the service is up and running and will increase. "It's growing every day," he added.

Founded in 2009, Uber's service is based around a mobile app that consumers can download to indicate their desire for a pickup and where they are located. By registering a credit card number, the rider has a payment method on file. The company says riders wait no more than 10 minutes for their driver to arrive, on average.

With the expansion of Uber service to more communities, the company estimates it is capable of serving 43 percent of U.S. residents. The service also gives individuals a means to start a business of their own, Bennett said.

Uber only signs up drivers who pass a background check and review of their motor vehicle record. The applicant must have a vehicle that is a 2005 model or newer, has four doors, and is a mid-size or larger. Bennett said there is a $1 million commercial liability coverage per incident in force during the trip.

Uber's arrival in many cities in the U.S. and overseas has been met with opposition by taxi companies and local regulators who cite the drivers for not having licenses to operate.

"They have been operating, I will say, illegally in Broward County for just shy of four weeks," said John Camillo, president of the Yellow Cab companies in Fort Lauderdale and in Tallahassee. Camillo noted that his operators must adhere to local ordinances that govern for-hire services, their rates and trip meters.

Nor is Uber's ride-request technology anything new. Camillo's taxi customers can download a mobile app to indicate their location and get a visual display of where the closest available cabs are. Yellow Cab has had that GPS feature since 2003 and introduced its app in 2011.

"When Uber says they have new, wonderful, unique technology, they don't," Camillo said.

Bennett responded that Uber is a technology company. "We are not a transportation company. We don't hire drivers. We don't own any vehicles. To call us a for-hire transportation company simply doesn't make sense," he said.

He labeled the aggressive enforcement of taxi regulations in some cities as "an abuse of power" and said Uber wants to "welcome ride sharing into the transportation ecosystem."

"When we enter markets, we offer a safe, convenient way to get around town," Bennett said.

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