By Zen Vuong, August 18, 2013
Need a cab? In Pasadena you might be able to hail one with your smartphone.
companies have begun offering apps to do just that. Among them are San
Francisco-based Uber and Flywheel, both of which recently expanded into
the not-so-cab-friendly Southern California market.
That may be
about to change. Take Cristine Cardenas, 23, who said she became a loyal
Uber fan after using the cab service app three times.
Uber a lot because you have the option to have a really nice car, and
that’s kind of fun,” she said. “The first time I went with a friend, I
didn’t know what to expect. A BMW came up. The driver was in a suit. It
was fun to roll around in a BMW.”
Uber launched in 2009 and serves 35 cities in 18 countries.
month it expanded to Pasadena, several communities in the South Bay and
the San Fernando Valley. It previously served only the greater Los
Angeles metro area.
“Uber is very classy, and it’s very
efficient,” co-founder Travis Kalanick said in a 2011 YouTube interview
with “TWiST.” “The business is on-demand town car service. Like I push a
button on my iPhone or Android or even SMS. I push a button and in five
minutes, a car comes. I can see it coming to me (via Google Maps). When
it arrives, I get buzzed.”
The City of Los Angeles Taxi Services web page lists more than
2,300 official cabs. But Cardenas said she disliked long waits and
having to carry cash around because, she said, drivers often claim their
credit card machine is broken.
Uber’s not the only recently
unveiled cabbie app. Flywheel recently partnered with L.A.-based Bell
Cab Co. to offer service in the South Bay. The company reports it can
get a cabdriver to a customer in five to seven minutes.
Uber is unique because it doesn’t require any cash. Users input their
credit card information when they create an account. There are three
types of vehicles to choose from, including SUVs.
Clients set a pick-up location and are given an estimated time of
arrival. They can also get a fare quote before hailing the cab.
first time Cardenas used Uber, she said she had to scramble to finish
getting ready for a night in Hollywood because four minutes really meant
four minutes. Normally she has to wait about half an hour before a cab
arrives, she said.
“The first time trying to pay, I didn’t think
it’d be that easy,” Cardenas said. “It takes some getting used to ...
getting there and then hopping out of a car. The simplicity kind of
throws you off.”