Uber has launched a taxi booking service in Sydney, it has been announced.
Uber Taxi connects users with a pre-selected range of taxi drivers through the company's smartphone app for iPhone and Android devices.
The company is a private car service that originated in San Francisco.
The Uber Taxi system integrates a taxi driver rating system and live vehicle tracking. However, Uber doesn't actually employ its own taxi drivers or own the fleet of cars used — it simply connects passengers with licenced taxi drivers who are using the app.
Uber Australia's General Manager, David Rohrsheim, said the Uber Taxi service is a natural follow up to the company's existing private car options.
We’ve taken the elegant, intelligent system that has been the foundation of our growth in private hire cars, and adapted it to the needs of taxi drivers."
"Uber is the cheapest way to book and pay for a taxi. Uber Taxi trips have a flat $2 fee, lower than the taxi network bookings, and no credit card surcharge."
The Uber app allows passengers to see exactly where the taxi is once they've made a booking and users don't have to physically pay at the end of a trip.
The taxi fee is automatically deducted from a credit card registered in the Uber app once the trip is completed.
Uber personally meets with every taxi driver that uses the network, checking their licence and registering a photograph on the Uber system.
"We work with regular taxi drivers in Sydney and we give them an Uber iPhone. When they're available and not on a break or a regular job, they log into our system and can accept Uber taxi bookings," Rohrsheim explained.
"We meet every with driver, get their documents take a photo to put into our system."
Rohrsheim said the company would not reveal how many taxi drivers use the Uber network at launch but says that "most of the taxis on Uber are currently silver service vehicles."
Uber charges a $2 service fee for all bookings, but the rest of the fee is based on the actual taxi metre price.
The Uber Taxi service is available now in Sydney and the company will waive the $2.00 service fee for the first 60 days as part of a promotional offer.
The Uber taxi service complements the company's existing private hire car service, which launched in November last year.