Uber's Free Taxis Are in Action

Uber, the smartphone-operated black car service, is celebrating its move into taxis by offering free taxi rides up to $25 to everyone in the Boston area from Tuesday morning to Thursday evening at 8 p.m. As the Globe notes, this looks like a reaction to the fact that a bunch of phone-based taxi hailing services like TaxiRightNow and Hailo Boston are setting up in the city soon. Uber’s promotion is a big investment to get people in the habit of using their app before competition even exists. The fine print for the promotion is at the Uber site, but there isn’t much of a catch. Just be careful not to request their black car or SUV service, which aren’t eligible for the free rides.

If free taxi rides for the next three days seem too good to be true, take our word for it. This writer took a free taxi to work today, requested through the iPhone Uber app. It took two requests before a cab became available, but once it did, it took only five minutes to arrive, and at $0.00, it was cheaper than the bus. The whole affair operated a lot like Uber’s black car rides: the driver sent a text when he was outside, and the ride was a smooth, cash-free transaction. The difference is that it felt slightly less VIP than it would in a black car (though even taking a cab to work makes me feel kind of swanky.) And it would have cost less, had they charged the typical fare. Here’s a screenshot of the receipt:

We’re pretty intrigued to see whether Uber can keep up with the demand this week on what we imagine will be a really popular promotion. But in the meantime, this guy is not missing the typical commute.