Despite NYC Delay, Uber Launches Taxi Option In SF

Uber, the technology startup best known for its flagship app that lets people summon and pay for transportation in private black limousines, is starting to look like it’s the subject in a nationwide game of whack-a-mole with local regulators — it is shot down in one place, only to pop its head up in another.

The latest example of this: Uber just announced in a blog post that today it is launching the lower-priced “Taxi” version of its car service in San Francisco.

The announcement comes just one day after Uber confirmed it had discontinued the beta version of UberTAXI in New York City after much regulatory opposition. In a blog post yesterday, Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick vowed to continue pushing the rollout of UberTAXI to other cities — and this latest bit of news shows that he really wasn’t kidding.

Here are excerpts from the blog post which outline basic facts of UberTAXI in San Francisco:

“TAXI will be live in San Francisco starting today. We’re releasing it gradually to make sure things are going smoothly. If you don’t see it right away, don’t worry. You will within a few days.

Drivers will continue to use the meter in their taxis and will input the fare into their Uber iPhones at the end of the trip. This will include all tolls and out-of-city surcharges that would normally apply for any SF taxi ride
A 20% gratuity will be added to your fare, plus a $1 booking fee. This will be done automatically and charged to your credit card, exactly like a standard Uber ride.

Uber TAXI is a new choice for Uber users. You can keep using all the Uber options exactly as you did before.”

San Francisco does not have same level of regulatory oversight that New York City does when it comes to how cabs can be hailed, so Uber is not entering a blue sky market here — there are a number of companies that have been letting San Franciscans hail cabs through the web or their mobile phones for a while now, including Cabulous and TaxiMagic. But there’s no doubt that Uber brings a lot of cred to the scene, having built up such a solid name in its hometown with its black cab service. It will be interesting to see how the San Francisco crowd takes to UberTAXI in the days ahead.

This will certainly not be the last bit of launch news out of the company. It’s clear overall that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is not taking the pushback from regulators without a fight. As he told TechCrunch co-editor Alexia Tsotsis in an on-stage interview at Disrupt SF last month, “Every city we go to eventually the regulators will make something up to keep us from rolling out or continuing our business… It’s important for tech companies to band together and have a voice.”

You can watch that entire interview in the video embedded below: