Uber is a venture-funded transportation company that started in San Francisco, USA back in 2012. The premium car service has been secretly roaming the streets of Metro Manila since December of last year, and we here at CebuTechBlogger.com got a first hand experience.
First off, the service is somehow like Grab-a-Taxi, where in you need to download the app, which is free by the way, from the Apple AppStore or from Google Play to book a car. After downloading the app, you just first need to configure your profile by entering your basic information, as well as saving your credit or debit card, as Uber does not support cash payments. Once you’re done with this, you are all set into booking your very own private car service.
What sets Uber apart from your regular cab and mobile-based cab booking service is their fleet. Their cars, called “Black Cars” ranges from a Totoya Altis, Ford Focus to a Toyota Camry and an E-Class Mercedes Benz. They also have SUV’s like a Toyota Fortuner.
So to book a car, all you need to do is to fire up the app and it will automatically detect where you are. A prompt on your screen will have a flag that will tell you where the nearest Black Car is, well if there’s one near you, and the estimated wait time before the car picks you up.
What’s nice is that after booking the car, you get updated in real time on the car’s whereabouts, the name of the driver, the make and model of the car, as well as the plate number for easier identification. Although Uber calls their cars a “Black Car”, not all cars they have are black.
The cars Uber has on their fleet does not have a “TAXI” sign plastered on any part of the car, or even a hint of it, making it look really like a private car, with your very own personal driver. The cars don’t even use a yellow plate for taxis, but rather either a green (private) or a rainbow (airport taxi/hotel car) plates.
Getting inside the car is just pleasurable. The AC works perfectly, the drivers are nice and very conversational. The driver has his own iPad mini, mounted on the dashboard. The iPad mini is where the driver gets the notification for a passenger requesting for a black car, if he’s the closest to the passenger’s current location. Alternatively, it also serves as the GPS device for the driver.
Once you reach your destination, all you need to do is to get off the car, as your credit card gets automatically billed. It’s a very nice touch to the experience, as there’s no physical money involved, so you’ll never encounter drivers asking you for additional payments and tips. Plus, it’s much safer, especially when there are stories circulating on the internet about taxi drivers gassing up the car to mug passengers.
Another nice touch to the service is that Uber sends you a receipt of your trip through e-mail, containing not just the breakdown of the fare, but also the trip statistics, driver info and the actual route the driver took, plotted on a map.
The base fare of an Uber Black Car is at Php 90, with Php 12.92 per kilometer and Php 2.10 per minute charges on top of it. Now it’s a little more expensive compared to regular cabs and even Grab-a-Taxi, but for the kind of premium service they offer, plus the safety, it’s very reasonable. Minimum fare is at Php 120, and there’s also a cancelation fee of Php 100.
But on the bright side, Uber currently running a referral program. Once you sign up for a new account, Uber gives you a unique code. You can give out this code to friends for them to get a free Php 300 credit on their first ride, and you’ll get the same Php 300 credit when they use it. (Mine is N3E9G just in case you don’t have a friend to ask for a unique code for your free Php 300 credit).
Sadly, Uber is currently available only in Metro Manila, but hopefully, they can bring the Black Cars in Cebu, too, soon.