“I always take Uber since it’s cheaper.” A classic argument for people who like the pseudo-taxi service that started offering its services four years ago and is trying to penetrate into other cities’ markets. But this argument isn’t always true. Uber changes its prices throughout the day, however it likes. We tested, whether or not the ride really is always cheaper.
A normal taxi has the rate per kilometer printed on its doors. The customer can thus very easily guess or even calculate the final price of the ride. That, of course, only works if we don’t consider the taxi drivers who are ripping off their customers.
Prague, Uber’s paradise
Uber is a global app that transports more than two million people worldwide. A portion of these customers come from the Czech Republic. In Prague, 170,000 people use this service daily.
There are currently 2000 Uber drivers in Prague.
Normal taxis operate their dispatch centres and have fixed prices. Uber operates differently and doesn’t have a fixed price.
At the cheapest and most often used service, it’s 9,90 CZK per km and 3 CZK per minute of driving, with a starting rate of 25 CZK and an airport fee of 50 CZK. Uber changes the tariffs based on the time of the day.
This means that a customer can take an Uber for 200 CZK, and a few hours later drive back the same way for thrice as much.
If there’s bigger demand than the amount of drivers, the prices multiply. A driver can see that there’s more demand at a certain place and move there. This way, customers can get a ride faster, explains Miroslava Jozová, Uber’s spokeswoman.
Sometimes you can pay 800 CZK for 2 kilometers
Sometimes, the price can change pretty quickly and pretty significantly, as one Uber driver told us during the test. “I was driving on New Year’s Eve, 1am till 4am and the prices were quadrupled. I was driving for three hours and made 5000 CZK,” the Uber driver told us.
So, how can you guess when the ride will be cheap and when it’ll make quite a portion of your budget deficit? Quite hard, since the company is quite unpredictable. When you ask the company about the multiplying, the company claims only a few rides have price multiplication – only 19% of rides include multiplications, says Jozová.
The great news is that Uber talks a bit more to their main clients – the drivers. The company frequently sends out emails with useful information, including an email with a graph that makes it easier to plan rides.
It includes a table that shows during what hours of day the price can multiply the most often. The darker the color, the more frequently rides cost more.
From Žižkov to the Airport? Prepare to pay at least 350 CZK
During testing, we used the Seifertova street in the Žižkov district. The app lets you know how much the fare will cost, approximately. The company offered us 315 as the lowest possible fare and 725-825 as the most expensive one.
Uber, Liftago or Taxi? We tried it all out and found out which one to call to pick you up
The drive to the airport is approximately 20 km, so if we used the cheapest fare Uber offered us, 1 km would cost us 15 CZK and when you take into consideration that we’re in Prague, that’s fairly cheap. But if we drove during the rush hours, we would pay 30-40 CZK and that’s a problem, since Prague only allows taxi drivers to charge 28 CZK per kilometer. And we’re only talking about the cheapest option here, Uber Pop. The company also offers Uber Black and Uber Select that offer passengers newer cars and more comfort, but are even more expensive.
Select offered us 950-1090 at most, which is 50 CZK per kilometer. Black offered us 1400-1500 CZK, which is about 70 CZK per kilometer.
We’re not a taxi service, we can charge as much as we want
Uber charges their rates because they don’t take themselves for a taxi service, and the fact that Prague only allows taxi drivers to charge 28 crowns doesn’t include them. We need to add that the Ministry of Transport doesn’t agree with Uber’s position and the employees are penalizing Uber drivers for charging too much.
However, when there are no multiplications involved, Uber Pop offers lower prices than a classic taxi service. The cheapest taxis operate with a rate of 18 CZK per kilometer. However, no taxi driver (except the scammers that roam around Prague) can offer a drive for more than 28 CZK per kilometer.
It’s also not true that Uber changes prices only on weekends, since we also tested Uber on a Monday and the prices were similar.
Aside from a few exceptions in the morning when the fare was more expensive, the usual rate was 320 CZK, which means 18 CZK per kilometer. This also shows us that Uber’s price depends on the starting location and on the final destination. Uber values the centre of the city more than the peripheries.
Math can save hundreds of crowns
We recommend this: Know the distance before each ride and divide the price by the number of kilometers you’ll be driving. If the price is higher than 28 crowns, call a normal taxi, or use Liftago or the airport transport service, Prague Airport Transfers.
If you don’t wish to do that, have patience. Multiplied fares rarely stick for more than 20 minutes. So wait for a while and check every five or so minutes whether or not the price has changed.