Today Uber announced that it was lowering its rates in San Francisco by about 10%, effective Jan 21, 2013. This brings the cost of using Uber in SF closer to the cost of a Taxi.
The minimum fare of $15 did not change, so very short trips will cost the same. However, most trips will have a reduced price. The old and new prices for regular Uber (black car) trips in SF:
Uber also launched UBERx for everyone today (it was in private beta). UBERx is a lower priced version of Uber that uses hybrid and mid-range cars, not necessarily black. UberX rates:
For reference, San Francisco taxi rates:
SF Taxi Rates
Base Fare (includes first 1/5 mile)
Per Minute of waiting or traffic delay
I crunched some numbers for a few theoretical trips:
New Regular Uber rates
Mission to SOMA (2 miles, 3 mins of waiting)
Inner Sunset to Marina (4 miles, 7 mins of waiting)
Golden Gate Bridge to Caltrain (7 miles, 15 mins of waiting)
UBERx costs 25-30% more than at taxi (including gratuity) while the new regular Uber rates are about 40-45% more than a taxi. The main benefit of Uber over a taxi is reduced travel time and reduced variability in trip time. By booking a ride through the app, users know exactly how long until their driver arrives to pick them up and can monitor progress in the app. Unlike with taxis, there is no chance they will abandon you and pick up someone else en route, so you can be certain about when they will arrive. For many high value trips, the additional 25-45% cost over a taxi may be worthwhile.
There are other benefits of Uber over a taxi:
It should be also noted that Uber launched a new option to request a standard SF taxi through their app. The trip cost is standard taxi rates plus $1 and 20% gratuity.
Uber is worth trying out for your next high-value trip. They currently have options in 26 cities and 7 countries, although not all vehicle options are available in all cities (San Francisco tends to get most of them earliest).