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    The international smartphone ride-hailing service comes to Chennai, with Mercs and BMWs on call

    In spite of the 37,000 taxisa��from over 30 call taxi servicesa��cruising Chennaia��s streets, a new player hopes to change the game. Uber, the app-based taxi service that has successfully made its presence felt in over 70 cities across the globe, kicked off its official operations in Chennai this week. To hail a cab, all you need is their app on your smart phone; they will find you via your Android/iPhonea��s GPS.

    a�?We have everything from a Toyota Altis to a Camry, Innova and the occasional BMW and Mercedes Benz,a�? reveals Swathy Prithivi who handles the companya��s international launches. Better yet, Prithvi adds, a�?All cars are priced exactly the samea��at `15 per kilometre.a�? To our delight, she assures us that these are a�?not promotional prices.a�� The only downsidea�� youa��ll get whichever cab is closest to your location. So dona��t be surprised if a Merc shows up the first time and an Innova the next.

    There is more. A map in the app will show your car moving towards you in real time and you can send a map of your location (moving car and all) to whoever is waiting for you at the other end, so that they know how early or late youa��re going to be.A� And herea��s the clinchera��all this is on a cash-less basis. a�?We take credit card details when you register with us,a�? explains Prithvi. And if that werena��t enough, therea��s even an option on the app to split the fare among those travelling with you!

    We wondered how Chennaia��s drivers responded to dealing with customers via the app, as opposed to the old school, operator-controlled-orders. Prithvi laughs, a�?Each driver has a smartphone in the car, so they think ita��s pretty cool!a�? As for how difficult it is for non-techies to use, it turns out all you need to do to request a ride is press two buttons. a�?Even my grandmother, who doesna��t know anything about technology, can do it,a�? Prithvi assures us with a laugh. And after a quick tour, we certainly agree.

    Details: Uber app is available for Android and iOS

    – Sonali Shenoy

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