Ridesharing App Uber Arrives in Madison

Ridesharing App Uber Arrives in Madison
Milwaukee Bucks player Brandon Knight was the first rider to use Uber in Milwaukee last month.

Madison is now one of the eighty-plus cities around the world where on-demand transportation app Uber is available. The service officially launched in Madison Thursday, March 6.

“Uber is everyone’s private driver,” says Nick Anderson, the GM for Uber in Wisconsin. “Think of it as being able to get in a car at the touch of a button on your smartphone.”

Here’s how Uber works: You download the free app onto your iPhone or Android, create an account, add your credit card information (which you’ll only have to do once), and order a car either to your current location or specify another spot. In five to ten minutes, your ride shows up. Once you’re at point B, the bill, including tip, is taken care of through the app. No need to get out cash or sign anything.

Uber offers a few different kinds of rides. UberBLACK, which launched in Milwaukee last month, provides luxury vehicles like SUVs and town cars. In Madison, the service that’s available is called uberX. It’s a rideshare program that Anderson says is less expensive than a traditional taxi ride. Fares are based on time and distance.

On its website, Uber provides some sample fares for Madison: A ride from downtown to Camp Randall is about $5, UW to East Towne Mall will set you back $14 and airport to downtown is $20.

UberX drivers go through stringent background checks and driving history checks, and their vehicles are fully inspected, Anderson says. Uber verifies drivers’ insurance and registration, and Uber has an umbrella insurance policy as well, Anderson says.

When you order a car, you can see who’s coming to pick you up, what kind of car he or she is driving and the license plate number. “There’s a lot of transparency,” Anderson says. 

Uber’s launch in Madison comes on the heels of Lyft, another rideshare app that started advertising for drivers about two weeks ago. Both Lyft and Uber may run into some legal troubles with the city, as they do not have proper licenses. “Under Madison law, any vehicle that provides transportation for hire must be licensed by the city — this includes services where drivers only receive tips as compensation,” according to Isthmus.

Uber has faced legal challenges in other cities across the country as well.

But Anderson says he isn’t concerned.

“Right now we’re really focused on proving Madison another safe, reliable transportation option,” he says. “There are so many benefits, like with impaired driving, people have another option now.”

The company is running an uberX promotion as part of its rollout here. Through March 20, Uber users get ten free rides (the ride can be up to $25). You don’t need a promo code or anything, just use the app like normal.

Uber originally launched in San Francisco in 2010. The service is now available in more than eighty cities in more than thirty countries around the world. For more information, visit uber.com