We Did The Math: Is Uber Really Cheaper Than A Taxi?

Uber has revolutionized ground transportation, with lower rates, convenient mobile phone technology and much faster pick-up times than taxi cabs. Uber has also disrupted much of the taxi industry, threatening some companies’ very existence and the livelihood of their drivers.
For the past week, the writer turned his 2013 Prius into a taxicab, driving nights for uberX, the low-cost arm of the ride-on-demand company Uber, which, if you live in a major American city, either has already transformed how you get around town or will within the next few years.
Here’s how it works: Download the app and enter your credit card information. When you need a ride—in anything from a town car to a Prius—open the app and press a button. That’s it. Drivers in Uber’s network are circling your neighborhood, and by the magic of GPS, the closest one is arriving at your door, oh, right about…now. The fare is calculated by some algorithm of distance and time. No cash is ever exchanged.
Over one month last fall, Uber averaged 1.1 million requested rides per week, with upwards of 430,000 active weekly clients. Based on those figures, Valleywag estimated Uber could be raking in $213 million in annual revenue. The company’s reported valuation: $3.7 billion dollars.
uberX is oddly egalitarian: It offers rides for the people, by the people. What’s more democratic—and capitalistic—than giving a lift to a stranger for a small fee? Though the driver did wonder what kind of fool would climb into a stranger’s car. Even more worrisome question: What naive idiot would invite a stranger into his car?
The clearest sign of Uber’s ascendance is that its name is no longer just a noun. It’s become a verb, too, as in: How did you get home from that party? I Uber’d. There are competitors in the field—such as Lyft and Sidecar—but when was the last time someone said they “Sidecar’d home” at midnight?
Uber is very rider-focused just because they’re trying to grow the company. If the rider disputes a fare, or if they have any dispute in general, Uber will be very quick to refund their money and pull it right out of the pay of the driver. As long as Uber still has a supply of fresh drivers that are willing to take whatever pay they can, and get into sort of whatever deal they unfortunately get into, then refunding the money and taking from the driver is just not going to stop any time soon.
Uber very well could be enormous someday, maybe bigger than Facebook. Uber’s plan is to outgrow its car-service roots, and become, as investor Shervin Pishevar put it, “a digital mesh” capable of providing all kinds of transportation and logistical services to people in the cities it serves. Once it has you summoning cars from your phone, the logic goes, it can use that same back-end technology to hook you in for all other kinds of deliveries — food, clothes, Christmas trees.
sources: GQ.com, PBS.org, New York News and Politics

briservWe Did The Math: Is Uber Really Cheaper Than A Taxi?