Uber is a Bay area techie start up (surely, you've heard of them) that after making a big splash in San Francisco, New York, and a bunch of other North American cities and even Paris, has just recently hit the streets of London.
The on demand car service allows everyone to have a private driver experience through iPhone, SMS, and web based requests. Essentially, Uber is a free app that you can use to book door-to-door chauffeured rides around town.
Fares are a little more expensive but still comparable to what you'd pay to take a ride in one of London's Black Cabs. As Uber CEO Travis Kalanick puts it, you get “Black Cab prices for S class cars.” However, for the slight premium you get a lot more “bang for your buck.”
Here's a list of some sample fares:
• Shaftesbury Avenue to Park Lane, £20 (roughly $30);
• Oxford Street to Knightsbridge, £22;
• The Strand to King's Road, £22;
• Mayfair to Liverpool Street, £29 (about $45);
• Canary Wharf to Mayfair, £40 (just over $60).
Flat rates for airport runs are as follow:
• Central London to Heathrow, £90 (around $140);
• Central London to City Airport, £36 (about $56);
• Central London to Gatwick Airport, £125 (just under $200).
Folks with experience taking taxis or mini cabs in London can attest that they're usually fine and definitely have their place, but there's always going to be an unpleasant element of chance hovering in the air when you book one. Odds are a trip with Uber will be a lot more comfortable and convenient and much cleaner than with most other options.
Uber's drivers are all professionally licensed chauffeurs with their own well kept cars (expect a sleek Merc, Jag or Beemer). They wear suits, make the effort to open the doors for you, and give you a bottle of water and probably something to read like the day's papers or some recently published magazines.
With the app, you can see how far away the nearest driver is, how long it takes him to reach you and even a photograph of him. At the end of your journey you can rate him and leave comments.
Some Uber details worth mentioning:
• There is a minimum spend of £14;
• The service is starting off in Central London only. For the time being, Uber's focus is Zone 1, but they are picking up in Zone 2 as well. And once in the car, your driver will take you wherever you like;
• The average wait for a ride is about 12 minutes.
Photo: Chris Osburn
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