Uber launches in Cedar Rapids: how to use the app - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Uber launches in Cedar Rapids: how to use the app

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Screenshots of the Uber app in Cedar Rapids. (Michelle Corless, KWWL) Screenshots of the Uber app in Cedar Rapids. (Michelle Corless, KWWL)
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  • Uber is coming to Cedar Rapids

    Uber is coming to Cedar Rapids

    Thursday, December 4 2014 8:16 AM EST2014-12-04 13:16:37 GMT
    2012831-uber-taxi.jpg2012831-uber-taxi.jpg
    The cab service, Uber is launching in Cedar Rapids, Thursday at 11 a.m. It connects riders and drivers through an app on your smartphone. More >>
    The cab service, Uber is launching in Cedar Rapids, Thursday at 11 a.m. It connects riders and drivers through an app on your smartphone.  More >>
CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - If you've ever needed to get a ride in eastern Iowa, you've probably learned it's not as easy as just hailing a cab on the street.

A lot of times, you need to look up a company and then call. A new service is changing that.

It's called Uber, and it launched Thursday, Dec. 4, in Cedar Rapids.

You do everything with Uber right on your smart phone.

First step? Download the Uber app and set up an account. When you want a ride, you open the app and choose where you want to be picked up. Cost information is available there, too.

Your driver gets an alert on their phone. Once they accept, you get all the information about your driver right here on your phone.

Then, it's like a cab. They take you where you want to go.

But when it comes time to pay, the driver hits stop on his phone. The app stores your credit card information and pays automatically. You get an email telling you how much your ride costs.

"There's no payment exchange," said Poonkeet Kant, general manager of Uber Regional Expansion. "It's all handled automatically through the app itself."

Drivers must pass background checks, including a driving history. They use their own cars and create their own schedules.

"It's flexible hours and flexible time," said Hany Hamza, a driver.

Uber's launch in some cities has been controversial, because the company doesn't get cab licenses.

In Cedar Rapids, city employees say Uber doesn't fit under the taxi ordinance, though the city is working on creating some regulations for Uber to keep passengers safe.

Uber says its rates are typically lower than the fares charges by traditional cabs.

Uber would not say how many drivers it has in Cedar Rapids. One taxi company says they may not be available when you need them, whereas cab companies always have somebody working.

Uber has been running in Des Moines since September. The company has also been working with Iowa City, but would not say when service may begin there.

Company employees say they're always looking to expand, but no plans for Waterloo or Dubuque at this time.

For one week, Uber is offering free rides in Cedar Rapids so people can try it out. To learn more about Uber, visit the company websitehttps://www.uber.com/
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