Uber Black Not Exactly A Bargain In The Burbs

Martin Romjue
Posted on September 9, 2014
Eh, chic Laguna Beach looks better from a real limo anyway.

Eh, chic Laguna Beach looks better from a real limo anyway.

Eh, chic Laguna Beach looks better from a real limo anyway.

Eh, chic Laguna Beach looks better from a real limo anyway.

I read another media lovefest article in the Los Angeles/Orange County Register newspaper over the weekend that revealed some facts that only members of the limousine industry could appreciate.

Taking Uber For A Spin In The Burbs

The angle of the article was using Uber in the suburbs. The writer took a sample round trip on Uber X from Santa Ana in northern Orange County to Laguna Beach, a wealthy, artsy enclave on the southern O.C. coast. Total cost round trip: $70.

That’s about what you would expect for a cab. But when she hit the app for her return trip, only UberBlack vehicles were temporarily available. She eventually found an Uber X vehicle just in time.

Here were the live UberBlack/SUV price quotes for a weekend afternoon from the central beach in Laguna Beach back to Santa Ana:

Sedan: $76 to $99 one way; SUV (Escalade): $96 to $123 one way.

I checked in with two seasoned limousine companies based in Orange County just to see what they would charge for the exact same trip distance and vehicles. I’m keeping both anonymous for competitive rate reasons, but you would know them if I whispered their names into your ear:

Limo company 1:

  • Sedan: $95.91 (all inclusive)
  • SUV: $136.22 (all inclusive)

Limo company 2:

  • Sedan: $109.91 (all inclusive)
  • SUV: $180 (all inclusive)

Uber Black/SUV is cheaper when compared to three of those four rates, but not by much. This shows that the economies of scale decline for TNCs the further out they venture into the suburbs (Orange County lies about 30-50 miles south of Los Angeles).

And as we all know, when you call a limousine company, you get a fixed rate and reservation by a legal, vetted, commercially insured, and experienced ground transportation company. Operators should press that advantage, and look for gaining market share in wealthier suburban areas like Orange County.

The writer's conclusion? "I wouldn't ordinarily indulge in a $70 trip to the beach, but it would be tempting for a night on the town, especially if divided among friends." Hmmm. There's a solution for that: A real limousine!

Related Topics: California operators, Limo Rates, rates, staying competitive, TNCs, Uber, vehicle apps

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Greg Smith

     | about 6 years ago

    Hi guys - I am enjoying your coverage of Uber. I have my own small car service business and am an Uber Black driver. I will tell you that Uber Black rates in New Jersey are double the rates I charge my own clients. I don't get many rides from Uber - 2 to 4 per week - but they are an important niche and about 7% of my business. For small businesses, Uber can be a valuable way to gain exposure locally. Also you get access to the business traveller on a much greater scale than you could. They are not competition to me - i benefit from their scale and their pricing.

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