A Driving Force

Matt Alexander
October 02, 2012

Uber launches its town-car taxis in Dallas. Why? It’s a thriving DUI nexus. Matt Alexander, completely sober, test drives. 

Last June, exhausted from a day of meetings in downtown San Francisco, I began the arduous process of hailing a taxi (a rare commodity in Northern California). My efforts were getting me nowhere fast, so I walked onto a side street and attempted an experiment: I requested an Uber car. Within minutes, a Lincoln Town Car arrived. The driver was dressed in a pleasant suit, his automobile clean, fresh and stocked with chilled bottled water. He greeted me formally, opened my door and whisked me across town. I could scarcely believe I had managed to live without this service up until this point.

Uber’s co-founders, Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick, launched the company in San Francisco in 2009, seeking to combat the very situation I found myself in this past summer. The duo decried the state of travel within the city and wanted to reinsert some semblance of dignity into the typical taxi experience — and their idea is thriving in spite of some opposition from well-entrenched transport authorities. Having recently begun providing service in New York City, London and Paris, Uber is keen to insert itself into some of the most populous cities in the world.

Leaving San Francisco, I mourned my loss, unaware that the plucky startup was already on its way to the Lone Star State. Launched this September, Uber already has more than 40 cars at its disposal in the central Dallas area. Available for little more than a typical taxi, but with far greater convenience and style, Uber is unquestionably set to make quite a splash. Speaking at a recent event in downtown Dallas, Uber general manager Ryan Graves remarked that our fair city has already become the fastest growing launch in the company’s history. Given the high volume of DUIs, the sprawling nature of the metroplex and the affluence of its citizens, we’re a target rich environment.

The Uber app is freely available for download on iOS and Android, and could not be easier to set up. Simply input your credit card information and request a car. Once your information has been submitted, you can then watch your driver approach on your phone’s built-in map. You needn’t worry about cash, antiquated card machines, or pens scraped across tracing paper — merely get into the car and get out, your card is automatically charged for the journey and tip. Uber also offers flat-rate visits to DFW Airport for $75 and the Rangers and Cowboys stadiums for $100. For simple trips from Highland Park to downtown, the cost is just over $20, depending on traffic.