Can a Chicago TAXI be Uber?

April 18, 2012 / Chicago

Can a (Chicago) TAXI be Uber?  It’s a provocative question that many people thought Uber would never ask.  Everyone thinks that Uber is the anti-TAXI, in a battle against an old system, fighting for innovation, competition and free enterprise.  Though that makes for exciting and controversial headlines, it’s just not what drives us.

Uber is “Everyone’s Private Driver.” Our sights are set on revolutionizing the personal transportation industry – boldly innovating so that cities are easier places to get around.  To date, that has meant connecting cities’ residents with high-end personal transportation services, but giving riders choice in quality and price has long been part of our mission.

So what does that mean? It means that we have been asking ourselves whether Uber can provide a less expensive service that merges our renowned quality processes with the power of choice for the consumer – creating the best quality for every price point.  As many of our riders and fans know, we’re tech and math geeks and so, we like running experiments to test our hypotheses.  Our first experiment in the arena of a lower-cost Uber is going to be TAXIS in Chicago.

Why Chicago? Chicago has a combination of significant TAXI capacity (50% more cabs per capita than NYC) and incredibly low prices – 2nd lowest in the country, offering potentially high availability at a great price point.  For the consumer: imagine if you could conveniently and reliably request a high quality TAXI from your phone without getting out your wallet.  For the Chicago TAXI driver: imagine if you could get several extra trips per day and get guaranteed tips for being good at what you do.

TAXI is an experiment that we’re rolling from the Uber Garage – our workshop of sorts where we tinker with new ideas for urban transportation.  It’s not clear what level of Uber quality is possible in a TAXI, but we’re going to find out.  Are you adventurous enough to give TAXI a shot?  Below are a few facts and pics from the Garage to help you decide.

– Select UberChicago riders will find their app enabled for TAXI.  The service will be enabled for an increasing number of users over the coming weeks.

– Pricing: Drivers will input the meter fare into the driver application.  A 20% charge to cover gratuity and service fees will be added to the fare.

– TAXI is an interesting experiment for UberChicago riders but Uber’s high quality car service option will remain the default in the Uber application.

Have fun!


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