While in New York for the New York Times Travel Show we thought we would try some Uber alternatives. We had some Uber referral credits (I’m not pumping their service but if you want to sign up via my link I won’t be mad) and used the service from the airport to our first hotel. for short trips within Manhattan I saw an ad for Gett and I thought we should give it a try. Here re are our results.
The service lists “Black Cars” anywhere in Manhattan south of Houston and east of 59th street for a flat $10. That seemed to be where we spent most of the weekend anyway so this service was our go-to. The fact that most of the private luxury car services in New York (and elsewhere) happen to use black colored cars, has then associate “Black Cars” as a group though the color is of course unimportant as is the particular model. When someone advertises a “Black Car” service I couldn’t care less about what kind of car or SUV arrives but I do expect something full size (Town Car, Cadillac even a Camry) and I expect a certain level of luxury because such service tends to cost more. Every single time I used the service it mentioned that it was getting us a black car.
Our first “Black Car” was a gray Corolla
When I saw that a Corolla was tracking towards us (like all of the other ride service apps you can see your car winding its way toward you on a map), I thought, either that’s a typo or this is going to be a literal black automobile, in this case a Corolla painted black. But that wasn’t the case. It was gray, it had cloth seats, and while it was very clean and the driver very nice this was nothing more than Lyft or UberX.
There’s nothing wrong with Lyft or UberX, we use those too. But there is a slider at the bottom of the Uber app that allows you to choose how fancy you want your experience. There is a distinction not only in price but also in characteristics when you select ‘Black Car’ in Uber, as there is in my hotel lobby when they list prices for “Airport Shuttle”, “Airport Taxi” and “Airport Black Car”.
At this point I am trying to figure out whether or not it’s just me that believes that a black car should be a luxury transportation service and if I am crying over spilt milk. So I did what any argumentative, stubborn person my age would do: I looked it up.
What is a black car service?Black car service is another name for hired or chauffeured car service. It particularly is reflective of “Towncar” service or executive sedan service which is used in most major markets as an alternative to taxi or shared ride service. Typically, a client makes advanced reservations with a service, the car is professionally dispatched, shows before the designated time, a trained chauffeur is driving, and the worries of getting from point A to point B are handled.
Upon its inception, Uber offered only full-size luxury cars for hire, and the “UberBlack” title was adopted for the company’s main service (named after the “black cars” private transportation services in New York City). In 2012, the company launched its “UberX” program, which expanded the service to any qualified driver with an acceptable vehicle. Partly due to a lack of regulation, Uber can charge lower fees than some traditional taxi services.