On Tuesday, the D.C. Council is expected to vote in favor of the “Public Vehicle-for-Hire Innovation Amendment Act,” which, as Mike DeBonis explains in a great piece on District of DeBonis, “essentially allows the Uber that residents know and love to continue operating with little practical effect on its business model.” (It’s facing lawsuits from cab companies and regulators in several other cities, according to the New York Times.)
As a staff full of night owls, we agree that the mobile app-powered Uber can be a godsend for getting home after a night out. This is especially true when you’re in an area that’s not full of cabs, like H Street NE on a weeknight, or when you’re trying to trying to travel a long distance. (Anyone who has had a cab illegally reject a request to be taken to upper Northwest, the Virginia suburbs or Southeast D.C. will know how frustrating that is.)
The service isn’t perfect, of course: I have stories about drivers who went to the wrong quadrant of the city to pick me up, or ran up fares by not using GPS and taking roundabout routes to a destination. It’s also not cheap, with minimum fares of $15, though the forthcoming UberX — which uses hybrids instead of black town cars — promises to lower prices a bit.
More importantly, Uber’s success has opened the door to other mobile ride-booking competitors, such as the German company MyTaxi, which launched in D.C. in October. It books a regular cab for your trip, which makes it cheaper than Uber, and includes some handy features, including estimated fares and travel time.