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GoLocal Special Report: Uber vs. Taxi Experiences in Providence

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


The battle between Uber and taxis is continuing to heat up in cities around the country, with the disruptive mobile-device Uber model looking to unseat traditional taxi service -- but which one is better?

SLIDES:  Uber vs. Taxis Head-to-Head  BELOW

GoLocal decided to put each to the test by sending out two reporters to put each head to head -- first calling for rides, at the same time, from the same location in downtown Providence across town to Providence College from Uber -- and a local taxi company.

Once arrived, the reporters switched services, with one opting for Uber -- and the other calling another cab company -- to get back downtown.  

GoLocal then rated each on ordering, pick-up, cleanliness, driving, cost, service and experience.  

Uber in the Spotlight

Uber has come under scrutiny as of late -- CNN Money reported on November 19 that Senator Al Franken "went after the company" pressing the CEO to explain its privacy policies, after an Uber executive made comments about conducting background checks on journalists.  

Locally, Providence area taxi drivers and companies have been joining the ever-growing efforts to regulate Uber and other ridesharing companies throughout the nation, saying their current pricing model undercuts local taxi drivers to lure in business just to price gouge the customers that they bring in.

“What we've seen in cities across the country is that lower prices means higher demand, resulting greater earnings for our partners” said Taylor Bennett, a spokesperson for Uber told GoLocal in October. “This higher rider demand will help drivers stay busier during the normal hours they're online, and to spend more time on the road earning fares and less time waiting for requests, therefore earning as much money or more in the same amount of time.”


Related Slideshow: Uber vs. Taxi Experiences in Providence

On Tuesday, November 25, two GoLocalProv reporters -- Kate Nagle and Courtney Melo -- ordered an Uber ride and a taxi at noon to take each from the Hampton Suites in Providence to Harkins Hall at Providence college, then swapped car service options to get the other experience coming back.  

Action Taxi LLC was taken by one reporter from downtown to PC while the other used Uber; High Class Taxi was utilized as the taxi service coming back, and Uber once more.  In both instances, the reporters called or requested service at the same time -- Uber got their reporter to the destination first before the taxi, but experiences varied with the modes of transportation depending on the category.  

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1. Ordering

Taxis: GoLocal's reporters had two different experiences ordering.  One reporter called Action Taxi LLP and was told five minutes, the other had to call two separate companies -- Providence Taxi LLP said they "had no rides" available, High-Class Taxi said ten to fifteen minutes for a pick up.

Uber:  One reporter was a "first time" Uber user, although had previously opened an account months earlier, so had to spend five minutes updating credit card information before an order could be placed.  The other reporter, a seasoned Uber user, took less than 30 seconds to order and was told two minutes.  

Edge: Uber

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2. Pick-Up

Uber:  One reporter had some major issues with getting Uber to come to PC -- the car was visible on the app driving near the location requested, but not approaching the main drive -- it look several calls to the driver to get picked up.  The other reporter's Uber car arrived in 2 minutes from time of order.  Both cars were unmarked but described on the app prior to arrival.  

Taxis: Despite saying five minutes, Action Taxi took 12 minutes from time of call to arrive, and showed up well marked.  High-Class arrived for pick-up nearly twenty minutes from the time of call.

Edge: Uber

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3. Cleanliness

Taxis: One reporter found Action Taxi to be impeccably clean, the other saw a lotion bottle on the floor in the the front by the driver in the High-Class taxi, but otherwise was clean.  

Uber:  Both reporters found the Uber cars to not be at the level of the taxis.  One Uber car, while clean, had a towel over the backseat, and despite air-fresheners, smelled of smoke.  The other was a clean car, but according to the reporter, a little "beat up" -- the seats were slightly torn. 

Edge: Taxis

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4. Driving

Uber:  One reporter found coming back from PC, the Uber driver was slightly unsure of turns to take, and highly dependent on the GPS, constantly fiddling with the screen.  For the other reporter, the Uber driver had to back up at a red light for being too far over the line.  

Taxis:  Both reporters found their taxi drivers to obey speed limits and traffic signals, and felt safe.  

Edge: Taxis

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5. Cost

Taxis:  One reporter had their ride cost $13 (with a meter -- $15 with tip) with High Class Taxi; the other paid $10 with Action Taxi, which didn't have its meter on, and didn't take credit cards.

Uber:  Both reporters paid essentially the same price -- $8 and change -- for their Uber rides from downtown to PC, and vice-versa.  

Edge: Uber


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6. Service

Uber:  Despite the one reporter's late pick-up experience at PC, the Uber driver was friendly and accessible.  For the other reporter, their driver did not talk much, and was not receptive to questions, due to a language barrier.

Taxis: The fact that the Action Taxi had no working meter was disconcerting; the driver spoke very little English but was pleasant.  The reporter said their High Class taxi driver was engaging and professional.

Edge:  Draw


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7. Experience

Taxis:  Overall the Action Taxi reporter found the experience to be average, but had serious concerns with the meter issue; the other reporter had an "overall good" experience with High Class.

Uber:  One reporter found their first experience to be Uber to be slightly rocky with ordering and arrival issues, but would give it another shot; the other found the lack of conversation and driving skills in their Uber driver -- who couldn't find Harkins Hall at PC -- to be major flags.  

Edge:  Draw


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