It’s been just over a month since on-demand car service Uber announced that they had soft launched in Philadelphia, and as usual that time has been spent in quiet contemplation while they worked out the specifics like pricing and local fleet operations.
Today, Uber officially exits their stealthy “research phase” in Philadelphia, so users in need of a classy way to cruise from Fishtown to Fairmount Park need look no further than their mobile devices.
“People think about New York and D.C., but they don’t think about Philly,” Kalanick said of Uber’s newest market. “The core of the city of Philly is the same as the core of New York in terms of number of people.”
While the number of people may sound good, there was some early skepticism as to whether or not Philadelphians would take kindly to the roughly 50% premium that Uber rides entail.
When asked about some of the struggles that Uber faced in bringing their on-demand black car service to the City of Brotherly Love, founder and Kalanick noted that he and the team will be keeping their ears open for feedback on pricing. One of the arguments against Uber’s proliferation in Philadelphia is that per capita income is lower there than in many of the other cities the service has launched in, but Kalanick doesn’t believe that will be a dealbreaker.
That said, the Uber operations team did decide to tweak the pricing model being used in Philadelphia — while the $7 base fare remains the same, their Philly per mile and per minute rates have dipped slightly to $3.75/mile and $.85/minute respectively.
He reiterated the fact that Uber is working on lower-cost methods of providing on-demand car service, though it could mean that some of frills the service is known for may have to be left out.
The company’s cost-conscious efforts in Chicago come to mind — Uber played with the concept of roping in yellow cabs instead of their pricier black Town Cars to ferry their users around, though there’s still no word on whether that program will find its way to other cities. Kalanick also intimated that some interesting things would soon emerge from their Garage concept testing program, though he sadly declined to elaborate.
Still, he and others noted that the reach of Philadelphia’s test launch was about on par with those seen in other cities, and with any luck their Philadelphia fleet will only continue to pick up steam (and customers).