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Uber ride service up and running in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- Ordering a ride with the tap of an app.

It's a new service available in Cincinnati but some cabbies claim the service could undercut them.  Uber started offering rides a couple of weeks ago in Cincinnati.

"Uber is a technology company so our app is really just a platform that connects people looking for rides with available drivers," said James Ondrey, the manager of Uber's Ohio operations.

Uber offers two services:  an upscale black car service and the lower cost uberX. It connects customers with freelance drivers who use their own cars to provide rides.

Some cab drivers in Cincinnati have voiced concerns about uberX cutting into their customer base. The owner of Ran's Taxi is circulating a petition to drive uberX out of Cincinnati. So far, the owner said he's collected 50 signatures on a petition.

Cab drivers are licensed and regulated by the city. They are required to place lights on their cars. But, uberX drivers have no such regulations. uberX claims to beat cab drivers' prices by as much as 30%.

"I think ultimately competition is a great thing for any business. I think it improves the quality and gives people choice," Ondrey said.

Tuesday night, Uber held a launch party. Local 12 News decided to put the service to the test. Angenette Levy ordered a black car on her iPhone. In less than a minute, a driver had accepted the order and his photograph along with his vehicle description and license plate number appeared on her smart phone.

Customers must provide a credit card to Uber to register for an account. Fares are paid with those credit cards.

The Uber app said driver Frank Saresky would arrive within four minutes. He arrived promptly.

"I've been doing this for quite a long time. Every day is a different day," Saresky said. Saresky's driven limos for 21 years. His company started providing rides for Uber last weekend.

"The technology is very good. And the minute, like on a Saturday night, the minute we finish one run, we click back online and it's not even 10 seconds and you have another one," Saresky said.

The trip from downtown to The Precinct in Columbia Tusculum and back cost $47. uberX rides cost less.

Cincinnati city council member Yvette Simpson said Uber will be a good addition to the city for tourists and millennials who live downtown and do not own a car. She does not believe the competition the company will provide to cab drivers is unfair.

"To the extent there's validity to those claims, we'll take a look at that but we don't see it as a challenge. We've seen Uber in other cities and it's been very successful so we don't see that being a problem," Simpson said.

James Ondrey added, "I think having more transportation options in a city is a good thing so we're just going to let people decide which way they want to move."

Follow Angenette Levy on Twitter @angenette5 and LIKE her on Facebook




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