Chicago riders can request taxi service with Uber as company announces safety feature automations

ByStephanie Wade and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, April 11, 2024
Chicago Uber riders can now request taxis
Starting Thursday, Chicago riders will be able to request taxi service in their Uber app.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Starting Thursday, Chicago riders will be able to request taxi service in their Uber app.

The company says it's a win-win for the taxi industry and for riders, and comes after Uber said it saw success in cities like San Francisco, where taxi drivers earned on average 30% more than their counterparts who chose not to provide Uber trips.

Thousands of taxi drivers that use technology from Arro and Curb Mobility will be able to accept Uber trip referrals.

Riders will pay the UberX rate and will receive upfront pricing in the app before requesting a trip.

This type of pilot program was already launched in San Francisco, New York City and Southern California.

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But some taxi drivers worry about the new partnership, and being forced to follow the app's protocols.

"It's going to affect our meter. Uber is going to control that meter. We don't want Uber to come in and control the taxi," said driver Baffo Kwaky.

And Uber drivers are also weighing in.

"It's going to affect us, of course. But you could say that we are used to it by now," said Wael Eldadah.

Eldadah has been driving for Uberfor eight years now. He said the company already takes high commission from his rides and this will only hurt his business.

"It's going to be bad news for us. It's already bad, and by adding this I don't know how it's going to look. That's why I started thinking just to stop. Try to find something else," he said.

"I would say it would hamper our business. But as long as they are doing well, and treat their passengers well, and they follow the protocol of Uber, it's fine," said Uber driver Seth Calasang.

"Riders are going to like this. We have surge pricing on Uber. There's sometimes savings for taxis. And of course Uber drivers aren't as plentiful as they were pre-pandemic. So this has a real customer benefit," said DePaul University Professor Joe Schweiterman.

The transportation expert said there will now be more available vehicles on the app for passengers.

"The downside of course, Uber's tentacles are now reaching into taxis. We already have a bit of a duopoly with Uber and a Lyft being so dominant. And it's a race to see who can control the most of the industry. That's going to raise a few eyebrows. I'm afraid," Schweiterman said.

This comes as Uber announced new safety feature automations in the app's Safety Toolkit.

Riders can record audio with the app if they feel uncomfortable during a ride. The recording will not be available for the driver, and riders can chose to share the audio with Uber after the ride.

Some safety features inlcude a pin verification, and an in-app emergency button where riders can call 911 within seconds. The app will prompt the rider's estimated location and vehicle information, including model and license plate number.

To learn more about Uber's safety features, click here.

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