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Uber Belfast: Everything you need to know - how to book, how much does it cost? Is it safe?

Published 11/12/2015

Uber is a taxi-booking app for mobile phones
Uber is a taxi-booking app for mobile phones
The Belfast Uber team: Pete Franks - Head of Driver Operations, Leoni Abraham - Partner, driver support Cain Kennedy, Marketing Manager Kieran Hearte - General Manager.

Uber launches in Belfast today and it looks set to take Belfast by storm.

Here is everything you need to know about the global taxi giant.

How do I get onboard?

Download the app, register your details, enter your card details, enter an the authorisation code sent to your email and you’re good to go.

How do I book a taxi?

Open the app, set your pick-up location, set your destination and hit request. Uber can then generate a text so you can let others know, if you want, you are on your way and your ETA.

How will I know the taxi has arrived?

You can follow the car’s journey to you on your phone. But, unlike in the rest of the countries Uber operates, the car will have a nifty sign on its roof advertising the fact - a requirement of the licensing laws in Northern Ireland.

Great so there’s no waiting?

In theory no, but in reality yes. There will likely be no new drivers on the road in the coming weeks as it takes time to get the right car, licence and insurance - about 12 weeks. Uber has said it will continue to add drivers and has asked for patience. Also its drivers decide when to work, not Uber, so if no one is working, there will be no taxis.

How much does this cost?

£2 to begin, £1.10 per mile and 10p per minute after that. Roughly the same as what the established firms already charge. If you want, the app will provide a fare estimate before you book.

Remember to be nice.

Once on your journey remember you rate the driver and he, or she, can rate you. Bad behaviour may get you banned.

How do I pay?

You don’t, in a the typical manner anyway. Your card details are stored and you pay Uber direct once the journey is over. The driver won’t take a penny, although you could probably tip. The driver receives 75% of the fare with the rest going to Uber.

Is it safe?

When you book, the app will give you a picture of the driver, tell you the type of car he is coming in, the registration and his rating. All drivers have to have the same paperwork as every other private hire taxi driver in Northern Ireland. Uber, which is also licenced, requires its drivers to take an enhanced disclosure and barring service check before working for them.

Will Value Cabs and FonaCAB suffer?

FonaCAB owner William McCausland said Uber’s arrival is a “big threat” to business. However, his firm and Value Cabs are the big fish in our little pond while Uber has not the drivers to match - yet. Given licensing regulations around private hire, drivers can only work for one operator, so it remains to be seen if there will be new drivers with Uber. One Uber driver said he was enticed by the ease with which to work with Uber and the safety aspect of not having to carry money.

Sounds good, but does Uber just do taxis?

The Belfast service is called UberX - the basic service. In other cities it has services which offer more, such as more luxurious cars. There is also UberPool which works similar to a bus in that it will pick up others along your route - or you could be on someone’s route - and you split the bill. Uber said there could be more on offer for Belfast in time. The company is also looking at expanding its model into other areas. So watch this space.

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