New Car Service, Uber, Wants To Take You For A Ride

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Uber calls this its "reliable service area."

Metro Detroit now has a new way to get around town.

A cell phone app, Uber, lets users request a limo-style car service by plugging their location, destination and credit card information into the app. The app then sends a car to the user, alerts them when it arrives, tracks the distance traveled, and charges the credit card accordingly, tip included.

Uber has been driving Metro Detroiters since March 8 with a limited number of cars. It has dropped the soft launch “secret” label from the website and announced an official launch this week.

For now, at least, it appears Uber is not going to out-compete any existing car service on price alone.

Let's say you took a nice vacation (someplace warm, I hope), and you need to get home from the airport. Uber will drive you from DTW to downtown Detroit for a $70 flat fee. A Metrocar will take you for $56.

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Ndamukong Suh was Detroit's first rider on March 8. (Thanks for getting around carefully, Suh.)

For shorter, more impromptu rides, Uber has a $10 minimum fare. A ride from downtown Detroit to Midtown in an Uber car runs about $18, according to the website, but fares can vary from $10 and up. A cab is $5 to $12, plus tip.

Wait times in the metro area are currently around 10 minutes, but Uber hopes to drop that to 5 minutes as their service ramps up. 

“It’s unfair to compare us to a taxi service,” says Chan Park, Uber’s launch specialist. It's marketed as an on-demand sedan service that's more stylish than competitors. Users are paying for the reliability of a professional, clean service. Uber connects existing livery services to riders through the Uber interface, and does not have it's own vehicles.

Users can track their ride with the Uber app, following it on a map as it approaches the pick-up location. The app texts riders one to two minutes before their car arrives; users and drivers are also able to call each other. 

The tech company, originally launched in San Francisco in 2009, has expanded to 32 cities around the world and is based at the M@dison Building in Detroit.

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