Why it is not possible to book a cab in advance with UBER?

Booking in advance with UBER

Why it is not possible to book a cab in advance with UBER?

First of all, let’s explain what UBER is and how it works. UBER is a mobile application which puts passengers in contact with transport professionals: VTC drivers (Private Passenger Cars with Drivers). They work for the most part for small companies which are allowed to drive passengers to their destinations for a fee.

UBER is not a transport company but a digital platform which develops and manages mobile applications. Therefore, VTC drivers only (and their small businesses) are in charge of your transfer. In most cases, these companies are registered at the Chamber of Trade (and so are most of the cab companies) and use UBER to find customers. VTC drivers also use other applications available on the market. To make it simple, whether you book a cab via UBER or pre-book a VTC via other applications (AirportCab, AlloCab, or others), your driver will probably be the same!

Why is UBER so popular throughout the world?

1. First reason: the price.

UBER’s fares are incredibly low – except in times of high demand (we will develop it later in this article). More or less, UBER provides the same transport service as cabs, but for a much lower price. Now, you’ll probably tell us: “What’s the catch? How come UBER is cheaper than a cab?” Probably because this American company doesn’t pay any taxes in France, or because French cab companies must buy licence (called ADS in French) whose price is very high… etc.

Thus, UBER is an American firm which only pays the commissions (25%) it owes to its VTC partners. The rest (75% of the fare takings) goes to the VTC small businesses which pay taxes since they are registered in France.
So, let’s take a closer look at those fares.

UBER’s prices are indeed very affordable. But, how can a transport company prosper and offer such low fares in a market where the competition between CABS and VTC is stiff?

First, let’s try to understand how UBER succeeds in keeping its prices so low. To make it simple, the application doesn’t charge its passengers for the “approach cost”, which means they only pay for the time they spend in the vehicle. In principle, UBER guarantees its drivers that the application will always find another customer close to the place they dropped their last passenger off. The distance the driver travels with an “empty” vehicle is therefore supposed to be very short.

As far as cabs are concerned, this is the opposite. Customers must also pay for the return of the cab without any passenger aboard to its starting point (the cab station in most cases). However, things have changed! Today, cabs have developed their own mobile apps. Thus, this is up to the driver who is the closest to pick up the customer. The cab station isn’t always the driver’s departure point, yet, passengers must still pay for the return of the “empty” vehicle… the icing on the cake!

The charges cab companies must pay are the real problem, and first of all, the ADS (licence). Even though new ADS are now free, cab companies must still pay for those issued before 2014. We are not going to develop this topic in this article, but the French Government, which sets the fares, will have to tackle the problem soon.

UBER’s VTC partners also receive their bonus: augmentations. Indeed, the price of a fare is more expensive when the demand is higher. UBER’s American vision of liberal economy implements the law of supply and demand to the letter. If the demand is largely higher than the number of available vehicles, the prices increase proportionally to this demand. For example, a customer can pay up to twice the usual fare to go home, if a major event is taking place in his/her neighbourhood.

2. Second reason: UBER is easy to use

UBER created the perfect mobile application, without spending millions of dollars in advertising to get known. Confrontations with cab drivers throughout the world, relayed on the television, the radio, the social media and in the newspapers, were enough to popularise UBER on a global scale. Millions of people have already downloaded this app and use it daily or punctually.
Booking a vehicle with UBER is easy for anyone who knows how to use a smartphone!

3. Third reason: the service quality

UBER keeps a close eye on the quality of the services offered on its application and remains very strict with its VTC partners. For UBER, the customer is always right!

UBER’s strategy on the transport market seems to be infallible. However, it is still impossible to book a cab in advance with this app. Why?

First, it is important not to get reservation and planification mixed up. Indeed, UBER already offers a planification service. Indeed, the app saves each order and, ten minutes before the scheduled time of the ride, it suggests it to one of its VTC partners who is near the pick-up area. However, if there is no driver around, the customer won’t go anywhere! Consequently, this system resembles a simple real-time reservation.

The pre-booking of a VTC is a different service and it is not a part of UBER’s services for a simple reason: the price. The reservation of a VTC is a safe and quality service, especially for important business trips or airport transfers. When you book a cab, you are sure to get a comfortable car and a dedicated driver. But, of course, such a service has a price. For example, your driver will take more time to provide you with the best conditions of travel. Just like cabs, the fare for the pre-reservation of a VTC includes the waiting time and the return of the “empty” vehicle to its departure point. The only difference is that you know the price of the fare in advance, and you can pay directly via the booking website or application.

Let’s not forget that pre-booked transfers are the main service VTC drivers provide.