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Uber Car Service Launches in Columbus

Walker Evans Walker Evans Uber Car Service Launches in Columbus
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Uber is a rapidly-expanding private car service that connects riders in need with the drivers of their sleek black cars. Think of it as a stylish and tech-savvy taxi ride where payment is processed straight from the smartphone app, and the need to flag down a cab is completely eliminated.

And as of yesterday, Uber now offers service to residents and visitors to Columbus. The Uber app is free to download and set up, and riders are charged for trips based on the time and distance of the ride requested. There are also flat rates to and from Port Columbus.

“Uber’s target audience is anyone who is looking for a better, more reliable and stylish ride,” explains company spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian. “The consumer demand for this service around the world makes very clear that a wide spectrum of a city’s residents and visitors are clamoring for that better ride. Columbus is no different.”

The rollout of Uber’s service in many cities has clashed with existing taxi cab regulations and policies. Lawauits and other legal issues have popped up for the company in Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Toronto and others.

“The state of Ohio recently demonstrated its nation-leading commitment to fostering innovation in transportation by modernizing its laws to make clear that for-hire sedans can provide transportation to riders who arrange that ride through digital dispatching services like Uber,” says Hourdajian. “We’re excited to continue working with the City in the coming months to ensure Columbus stays at the forefront of innovations that serve consumers and small businesses.”

Columbus Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Amanda Ford says that she was initially excited that Uber had reached out to the City of Columbus in advance, but is not pleased about their early launch.

“We walked out of the meeting believing that we had a little bit of time to put together a game plan,” she explains. “I’m disappointed that less than a week later I received a call stating they were launching operations. While they are using city-licensed livery vehicles and drivers, those owners and drivers will be in violation of code. Per the Vehicle for Hire code, livery vehicles are prearranged and must charge a per hour or fixed rate in advance. It is my understanding that Uber is charging a per-mile or per-minute rate depending on how fast the car is traveling.”

Uber is the latest in a recent string of transit-sharing alternatives launching in Columbus, which also includes the car2go service and CoGo Bike Share. All are aimed at providing residents and visitors with a variety of commuting options.

Rollout of Uber in Columbus is expected to be phased in. According to a blog post on their website: “Please note that during this early testing phase there will be limited availability, but we’re working hard to make more cars available each and every day.”

More information can be found online at www.uber.com/cities/columbus.

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10 Responses to Uber Car Service Launches in Columbus

  1. zachwalton October 4, 2013 5:11 pm at 5:11 pm

    I’m a recent Columbus emigrant living in San Francisco and have been using services like Uber and Lyft for the past few months. I haven’t used Uber as much as Lyft, but they’re both pleasant, seamless experiences that are more consumer-friendly and less stressful than traditional taxi services. Nothing beats pulling up an app on your phone and having a car idling outside 5-10 minutes later, and then handling the entire transaction through your phone without having to juggle cash and credit cards.

    The central Columbus neighborhoods (Downtown, German Village, Short North, Victorian Village, Arena District, etc.) are conducive to a service like Uber.

  2. Bear
    Bear October 4, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm

    I used their service on a recent trip to Chicago. I was ambivalent about it, but when the hotel concierge told me it’d be a 15-minute wait for a taxi, I whipped out my phone, fed in my destination, got to the curb, and the car appeared within seconds.

  3. TransitColumbus October 7, 2013 3:09 pm at 3:09 pm

    More options for mobility sounds good. Hopefully they can quickly work out their issues with the city.

  4. RiderRider October 8, 2013 2:58 pm at 2:58 pm

    They want to charge $30 (not inc. tip) to go from the statehouse to 1st Ave. In the other cities, you can request yellow taxi, SUV, limo, etc, with Uber. Here you can just do the black cars.

    Why cabs are so expensive in Columbus, is beyond me.

  5. Josh Lapp
    joshlapp October 8, 2013 3:40 pm at 3:40 pm

    Really? Because I checked from the Statehouse to High and 4th and it was $12-$13. Tip is also included in all over Uber’s trips.

  6. RiderRider October 8, 2013 5:07 pm at 5:07 pm

    @Joshlapp

    http://i.imgur.com/jMDooTx.png

    This is what I am getting. I think they may have a few glitches with their map/fare functions on their website. I am getting a few weird amounts and routes when I try different destinations.

  7. mbeaumont October 8, 2013 5:27 pm at 5:27 pm

    I used Uber in Seattle and it is as seamless as everyone has said, but you do pay a premium. My ride in Seattle seemed to be about 30% more than I would have paid with a taxi. But the convenience factor might be worth that for some. I had a good experience overall and would use it again. Glad we have it in Columbus.

  8. Walker Evans
    Walker October 8, 2013 5:56 pm at 5:56 pm

    Wow. The Statehouse to either 1st or 4th via COTA is $2 and there’s a bus coming every 3-5 minutes during most hours (you can take the 2, 4, 5, 8 or 21). Super easy and convenient.

  9. jfellrath December 20, 2013 9:39 am at 9:39 am

    So… it’s basically a stylish taxi?

  10. dandelione July 14, 2014 4:49 pm at 4:49 pm

    re: the hour.

    if anyone is under the impression that any livery service in Columbus goes by this hour ahead of time rule… they are sadly mistaken.

    no matter what anyone says every ride service operates on a snatch and grab basis. #harshreality #nobs #tryingtosurvive

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