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Uber hails arrival of its taxi service in San Francisco

The private car-summoning service delivers its cab-hailing program to San Francisco after acquiescing to regulatory resistance in New York.

Driven from New York, Uber's taxi-hailing service arrives in San Francisco.
Declan McCullagh/CNET

A day after conceding defeat in the Big Apple, Uber is bringing its taxi service to the City by the Bay.

The private car-summoning company announced today that it is bringing its cab-hailing service to San Francisco, allowing customers to request a taxi via an app on their iOS or Android device. At the end of a customer's ride, the driver will input the fare appearing on the cab's meter into an Uber iPhone -- along with a 20 percent gratuity and a $1 booking fee -- to determine the final charge, which is then billed to a credit card.

"This is a major addition, and pretty bold," Matt Hearns, community manager at Uber, said in a blog post announcing the move. "To be honest, this is a bit of an experiment for our users."

The debut comes a day after the San Francisco-based startup quietly ended support for taxi service in New York City after running into regulatory resistance. The fast-growing service, which allows customers to use smartphones to arrange transportation in several U.S. cities, announced last month that it was expanding into the cab-hailing business in New York.

Soon after the service was announced, the city's Taxi & Limousine Commission took issue with Uber's offering, saying that current city regulations prevent Uber from processing credit card transactions for taxi service. The company quickly tried a workaround by offering free taxi service for one week.

But a little more than a month after its New York debut, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced yesterday it had decided to withdraw its cab-hailing service from the New York market.

"We did the best we could to get more yellows on the road but New York's TLC put up obstacles and roadblocks in order to squash the effort around e-hail which they privately have said is legal under the rules," Kalanick told CNET. "We'll bite our tongues and keep our frustration here to ourselves."

Uber said it plans a gradual rollout of the service in San Francisco.