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Uber Taipei – Review of Taipei’s Newest form of Transportation

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Uber came to Taipei back in 2013 as the company aimed to extend its reach into Asia. Initially unrecognized by many locals, the company’s presence in Taiwan seemed to rise up with developments in China when various media outlets reported protests stirring up from Chinese cabbies over the company taking away jobs from locals. This media attention caught ground in Taiwan where various reports posed whether similar measures would occur in Taipei. Since then along with increased advertising efforts in newspapers, movie theaters and many more major outlets, Uber has gained a pretty solid footing in Taipei, where its main operations are located.

How Do I Use Uber in Taipei?

You can access Uber’s website via PC or download the app directly. Despite Taiwan having Chinese as its national language both the website and app can be configured into English upon downloading.

Uber only operates with check cards and credit cards. Upon accessing the app, you need to enter your credit card information and have it verified along with your phone number and email address by following a link that is sent both to your email and as a text message. The email address is needed because that is where receipts are sent and the phone needs to be verified in order to allow the driver to call you if something goes astray. However, this rarely happens and if you don’t speak Chinese this won’ be of much help.

Note: At the time of this writing we have yet to try whether the app downloaded and verified in another country is applicable to being used in another country despite the lack of phone number but it appears this does not make a difference.

Once your information is all verified, which takes about 10 minutes, you can now open the app and see where cars are located and approximately how long it will take for them to arrive to your location. For car services, there are two options -Uber X and Uber Black – with the first being the cheaper of the options, offering cars such as mid-range Toyotas and the latter the more expensive, with most of the cars ranging from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

As indicated by Uber’s Taipei website, the cheaper version starts off with a base fare of NT$40 (US$1.30) and rises NT$2.50 per minute or NT$12.50 per km. The minimum fare is NT$60 and there is a cancellation fee of NT$40 if you cancel the rise after 5 minutes from booking it. For the Uber Black choice, base fares start at NT$105 and go up NT$20 per a km or NT$5 per a minute. Minimum fares for this are NT$150 ($5).

Experience

We have loved every minute of it to be honest. First of all, there is a whole different class of people driving these vehicles along with a whole different set of rules. What we found so strikingly different about using this app is that from the minute you get picked up these drivers know they are being judged. When you finish an Uber ride you need to plugin your rating of the driver on a 1-5 star scale. If any of these drivers go below a certain average star amount they are called in to talk about their behavior and are even highly susceptible to being let go. This causes the driver to be extra nice to passengers, often resulting in them opening the door for you, asking if the AC is ok, and acting very mildly tempered while driving. Essentially, this is the opposite of most cab drivers in Taipei, and we relate it to this system Uber has because unlike taxis if they do something wrong or act bad you can only call a hotline and complain. By then it is too late and most likely the driver will never hear about it.

The drivers are for the most part working other jobs and take some extra time out of the day to drive and earn money, so rather being a jaded driver who has been on the roads too long the drivers tend to be more professional and easier to relate to. We usually ask the drivers what they do and it turns out many of them work in real estate and make use of picking up passengers through Uber while they have some down time. Others always say “this is just for fun” but probably this means they do not want to admit they need money.

We have taken the Uber Black a few times and it made us feel uncomfortable. The reason for this is because it was almost too luxurious. People who have drivers for Mercedes and have the doors opened for them are typically millionaire businessmen, both of which we are not. The drivers are also really concerned about every turn they make and how cool or warm the inside of the car is at all times, something of which if you are a guy you simply say “yeah yea it’s fine.” We shouldn’t be complaining about this but since we are used to very modest living standards it felt almost too good to be true, especially when you exit the car and find yourself looking for a budget restaurant. We should note that sometimes when you order the cheaper car an Uber Black may snatch the order but this only happens seldom.

Locations

Uber can be accessed throughout Greater Taipei and can be utilized for going to the airport. However, there is no special option to tell Uber you want to go there and it is entirely up to the driver to decide whether he or she goes there. In this scenario we do not use the service out of fear of being rejected when we are in a rush and standing outside with a bunch of luggage.

We highly recommend you utilize this service and not let the stinky cabs of Taipei filled with short-tempered drivers who don’t even have enough time to use the bathroom throughout most of the day to dictate your commute experience.

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