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Uber brings cheaper UberX taxi alternative to London

The car-hire firm has brought a less expensive version of its service to the U.K. capital for those who don't want to pay a premium for a ride in a luxury car.

Uber lets people summon cars with a smartphone app or mobile Web site, and payment is automatic.
Uber lets people summon cars with a smartphone app or mobile Web site, and payment is automatic. The less expensive UberX option is now available in London. Uber

Taxi and limousine alternative Uber has expanded its London service to include UberX, a lower-priced option with lower-end cars.

"We're merging the value of minicabs with the efficiency and instant gratification of Uber," the company said on a blog post on Wednesday. The service is only in beta to start, so as the company ramps up, there may be occasions when customers only have the option to use the higher-priced UberLux option.

The UberX service uses cars such as the BMW 3 Series sedan or Toyota Prius.

Fees are significantly cheaper than the UberLux service, which uses higher-end cars. For example, the base cost is 3 pounds (about $4.50) instead of 5 pounds, the per-mile charge is 1.75 pounds rather than 4 pounds, and the cancellation fee is 5 pounds instead of 10 pounds. A trip from central London to Heathrow airport costs between 30 and 45 pounds. The company asserts that makes UberX 30 to 50 percent cheaper than traditional car service prices.

In San Francisco, the UberX service costs less than a conventional taxi. A central feature of the Uber service is a smartphone app that lets people summon cars, track when they'll arrive, and pay automatically.

Uber has run into several regulatory barriers in many cities, but it's expanding fast.

It's now available in these cities: Amsterdam, Atlanta, Baltimore, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, London, Los Angeles, Lyon, Mexico City, Miami, Milan, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Munich, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Rome, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Seoul, Singapore, Stockholm, Taipei, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, D.C., and Zurich.

The company is also going upscale. For New Yorkers wanting to reach holiday homes in the Hamptons, Uber charges bewteen $300 to $500 per trip -- and at least on the day that service launched, it offered a helicopter trip, too.