The mobile ride-booking app Uber was founded in 2009. Photo via fb.com
A mobile ride-booking app is rolling out service in Grand Rapids and three other Michigan cities today.
Similar to a taxi service, San Francisco-based Uber connects riders with drivers.
The app allows people to request a ride through their device and payment is made electronically through the app.
Uber also launched today in Kalamazoo, Lansing and Flint and operates in Ann Arbor and Detroit.
Uber was founded in 2009 and serves 140 cities in 40 countries.
“We will be offering uberX, Uber’s ridesharing product, which means that drivers like you and me provide transportation with their personal vehicle to users in need of a ride,” explained Lauren Altmin, an Uber spokesperson.
Drivers who sign up with the service undergo a background check, driving history check and ongoing quality controls.
UberX drivers use their own cars, which must meet the Uber requirements of being mid range or hybrid vehicles with seating for up to four passengers.
Safety has been a point of contention for some cities where Uber operates and taxi companies.
Uber has continually argued its service is just as safe, if not safer, than taxi services.
“All Uber rides are backed by the driver’s insurance policy, as well our corporate insurance policy, and you will always have the option to rate every driver and contribute to the quality with your feedback,” the Uber website says.
Altmin said in most U.S. cities, uberX is 40 percent cheaper than a taxi, with just under half of uberX trips coming in at less than $10.
As a part of its Michigan launch, users can book free rides for two weeks by entering the promo code MICHFREE under promotions in the Uber app.