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Booking Mears taxis with Uber starts Friday in Orange County

ORLANDO, Fla. – Beginning Friday Uber passengers in Orange County will see a new option when they book on the ride-sharing app called UberTaxi, a new partnership with Orlando taxi service Mears.

In November, Uber and Mears teamed up to launch a premium service offering high-end vehicles to riders. The service will expand Friday to all Mears taxis.

“We’re thrilled to build upon our recent strategic partnership with Mears Transportation to now include their taxi fleet,” said Kasra Moshkani, head of Uber South U.S. “Uber riders will now have the option to select Mears taxicabs at the touch of a button in the Orlando service area and at the same rates as standard cabs.”

When the partnership was first announced 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.

Rebecca Horton, with Mears, said this new partnership is a win-win for everyone.

"It's benefiting the guests with more options. It's benefiting -- especially when the city is so busy -- it's benefiting Uber to have more vehicles to give to these guests and it's benefiting our drivers," Horton said.                     

Uber riders said they're excited about this new opportunity.

"Anytime I can make sure I'm getting the best deal and the best value, that's always a win for me," Uber rider Lavar Smith said.

News 6 spoke to Mears and Uber officials ahead of Friday's rollout to learn how this will affect app users. Here is what they said:

Where will UberTaxi be available?

The service will first be available in Orange County and to the theme parks. Uber has plans to expand to surrounding counties based on demand for the service.

Uber has partnered with taxi services in four other U.S. cities. Orlando is unique because it is an exclusive partnership with Mears taxi drivers. Mears has been in business in Central Florida for 80 years.

What will it cost?

The price of a trip will still depend on a rider's destination. Instead of a booking fee, Uber will collect a 28 percent commission fee on every UberTaxi ride. The rest of the trip cost goes to Mears and its drivers.

Riders will know up front the cost of their trip based on their destination. Riders can also pay and tip through the app.

Can UberTaxi pick up from Orlando International Airport?

Riders on UberTaxi and Uber will still be able to be dropped off at the airport, however UberTaxi pickup won't be available for a few weeks as Uber is working with airport officials on pickup staging.

Uber app users can currently book rides with non-Mears drivers to be picked up at certain areas. The app provides instruction to riders when they book. Travelers can also still get a Mears taxi at the airport taxi stand.

What will it look like?

Here's an example of what riders will see beginning Friday, April 18, if they book using UberTaxi.

What UberTaxi riders will see in Orange County. (Image: Uber)

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