ORLANDO, Fla. – Once fierce competitors, transportation companies Uber and Mears announced a partnership in Orlando Monday.
The two companies made the strategic partnership official Monday during an announcement at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts Center.
Uber app users in the Orlando area will soon be able to select the taxi option on the Uber app to select a Mears taxi. Just like for Uber drivers, riders will be given the name of the driver, car type and license plate number of the vehicle coming to pick them up.
The partnership comes as a surprise to some as the Orlando-based taxi company worked for years to prohibit Uber's expansion into the Central Florida area. Previously, Mears had battled Uber at City Hall and the Florida Legislature over its inroads into the local transportation industry.
Mears executive chairman Trey White said the decision to collaborate was driven by the market and will benefit both drivers and passengers.
White said Mears currently has 600 taxis and about 230 luxury vehicles in the company's fleet and expects the partnership will fuel the need for more cars.
“We entered into this partnership expecting to fleet up,” White said.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, beginning Nov. 28, users on the Uber app, will be able to access Mears luxury vehicles or an Uber car when they select the new UberBlack option. However, White said most of the UberBlack drivers will be in Mears vehicles.
UberBlack will have different pricing than regular Uber fares, including a $2. 70 booking fee, a base fare of $7 and then $2 per mile or $.71 per minute with a minimum fare of $15.
In June, UberX drivers were able to pick up passengers from Orlando International Airport, with an added fee, making it the most inexpensive transportation option from the airport.
Prior to this summer, only Uber Select drivers, the higher-end option, could retrieve passengers from the terminals.
Mears and Uber working together will mean more options for travelers to and from the airport, as well as high-traffic events downtown.
Drivers who work for Mears already undergo a background check and screening process, if they choose to drive for Uber they will have to undergo a second state, local and national background check, according to Uber. The same will go for Uber drivers who want to drive for Mears.
Check back for updates on this developing story.