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When calling a cab is too much of a hassle and Uber surge pricing is at its peak, Uber’s lesser-known cab service bridges the gap. So what is Uber Taxi? And how does it compare to the transportation services we know best?
Ever since Uber began to dominate the transportation industry, we’ve seen Uber vs. taxi competition in many headlines. However, as these stories focused on the success of UberX, the rideshare giant quietly grew the taxi arm of their comapny, a service that poses an even more direct challenge to the global taxi industry.
In this article, we’ll explain Uber Taxi — how it works for riders, and how drivers can take advantage of this unique Uber service.
- What Is Uber Taxi?
- How Do I Request One?
- Uber Taxi vs. Traditional Taxis
- How to Become a Taxi Driver for Uber
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Uber Taxi?
When you request an Uber Taxi, you’re hailing what is essentially your regular taxi cab. Instead of rolling up in their personal vehicle, your Uber driver will operate a taxi that’s fully licensed with local authorities.
Uber Taxi, which is called UberCab in some cities, isn’t just a novelty vehicle option in the rideshare world. This Uber service will actually change how you pay. Uber rates and costs are traditionally calculated based on time, distance, demand, and local base fares and booking fees. But with this service, your final cost will be based on:
- A set metered rate
- A flat booking fee (usually around $1 or $2)
- A set 20% gratuity rate
Because these rates are preset within every market, you won’t be subject to surge pricing, which has no known limit and can easily multiply your fares by eight or more during busy times and events. However, the use of reliable meter rates also means the estimated cost you see may not be your guaranteed final price.
How Do I Request One?
If you know how to use Uber, you already know how to request a taxi on the app. This Uber service can be requested with just a few taps, like Uber and Lyft. Upon typing in your drop-off destination, the Uber app will display a “Taxi” option right alongside better-known economy services like UberPool, UberX, and UberXL.
Of course, the Taxi option will only display if you’re in a market that offers the service. This is the biggest limitation to be aware of as you request an Uber Taxi, as it’s only available in about 20 cities worldwide. These cities include:
- Chicago, Illinois
- Dublin, Ireland
- Istanbul, Turkey
- Seoul, South Korea
- Sydney, Australia
Once you’ve selected the “Taxi” option from the app, you can see when your driver will arrive at your pickup location, just as you normally would with any other Uber ride. The biggest differences are you can also track the meter on the smartphone app and the tip is already included. (So, don’t worry about tipping your driver after the ride is complete.)
Uber Taxi vs. Traditional Taxis
As we’ve already discussed, the taxi vehicles Uber operates aren’t much different from your iconic yellow cabs. Both ride-hailing services use licensed taxis that are driven by professional drivers and charged based on a metered rate.
In a sense, this makes Uber Taxi a direct affront to taxi companies. As younger generations continue to choose mobile apps for their convenience, instead of flagging down or calling taxis, Uber’s copycat services make traditional taxis almost unnecessary. Plus, Uber offers taxi drivers the chance to escape taxi companies, which charge them massive fees. Uber instead pays a smaller 25% fee to Uber’s independent contractors.
Uber Taxi also one-ups traditional taxis when it comes to payment methods. While most taxi drivers have already started accepting credit cards and debit cards, Uber has a far better reputation as a universally cashless service with options to pay with Venmo, PayPal, and Google Pay. Frequent Uber riders also receive plenty of Uber promo codes and Uber Rewards benefits that easily steer them away from traditional taxi companies.
Plus, when every Uber driver has passed a background check and can be verified based on a license plate number you can view in-app, the safety of licensed taxi drivers is only enhanced.
How to Become a Taxi Driver for Uber
Uber Taxi is becoming an excellent choice for drivers who want to access locations that other rideshare drivers cannot. Even in cities and airports where services like UberX and Uber Black are banned, taxis from Uber are often granted access because they’ve completed a licensing process.
This does mean becoming a driver for this service comes with more requirements. On top of fulfilling basic Uber requirements, you’ll have to follow the same local regulations as taxi drivers in your city to get properly licensed. For example, Chicago requires its UberCab drivers to register with the Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) department and have commercial insurance.
Once you’re licensed, you can sign up to drive a taxi for Uber through our sign-up link.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve ever struggled as a rider or driver with the decision between Uber and traditional taxis, this service is a useful blend of both options. Here are our answers to some common questions.
1. Does Lyft offer a taxi service similar to Uber Taxi?
No, Lyft has not yet launched its own service with taxi drivers and instead largely focuses on the standard rideshare space. Uber’s taxi service was largely created to combat international regulations, so it makes sense that Lyft — a company that only operates in the United States and Canada — wouldn’t invest in a taxi service.
2. I’m unsure of my local taxi regulations. How can I learn more?
You’re not alone. The taxi requirements are often vague on Uber’s website, so the best way to learn more about your local requirements is by speaking to a rideshare company representative. To access this customer support through your Uber account:
- Open the Uber app on your iPhone or Android.
- Tap the “Account” section of your app.
- Select “Help.”
- Tap the blue phone icon on the upper right-hand side.
- Select “Call Support.”
3. Will I make more money per hour with UberX or with Uber Taxi?
It’s hard to say, as factors like location and time can drastically impact your earnings on either service. UberX drivers can make quite a bit of money by taking advantage of surge pricing, just by driving in busy areas during peak hours and during specific events. However, drivers for the Taxi service will likely benefit from naturally higher fares outside of peak hours.
Regardless, in most major cities where the service is available, there’s no need to compare, as the taxi service is often the only Uber service in its markets. This is due to regulations that require professional drivers for transportation services (this is the case in Japan) or otherwise bar rideshare or black car services.
4. Can I receive requests for other Uber services if I’m an Uber Taxi driver?
You can only drive for other Uber services if you have a second vehicle that’s eligible for other services and are willing to switch between this vehicle and the taxi. While you as a driver will already be more than qualified to drive for a standard rideshare service, traditional taxi cabs will not meet Uber’s strict cosmetic guidelines for services like UberX or Uber Black.
Get the Best of Uber and Taxis
This Uber service presents an opportunity for Uber riders to escape surge pricing and for experienced cab drivers to escape massive taxi company fees. This service, where modern rideshare meets a traditional method of transportation, adds a new layer to the lasting Uber vs. taxi debate, benefiting riders and drivers, but further challenging legacy companies like Yellow Cab.
While there’s no right answer to which service you can choose, more options mean more transportation options for you to choose from every single day.
If you’re located in a cab-heavy region, traditional taxi companies may have a special place in your heart. However, the convenience of hailing a ride through your smartphone is hard to beat. Learn how Easy Taxi and Cabify can help you call a cab through your smartphone throughout Latin America.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.