Taxi and car-sharing firm Uber has launched its UberX ride-sharing service in Bulgarian capital city Sofia on December 9, the company said on its blog.
The company describes UberX as “our innovative peer-to-peer platform that allows individuals to share a ride and get around Sofia in a secure and reliable way.” The service, introduced by the company in 2012, connects any driver with an acceptable car (as opposed to Uber’s taxi services, where the company hires the driver) to prospective customers.
To use the service, customers must sign up to the Uber app and register with a valid credit or debit card – all Uber payments are handled via bank cards. In Sofia, the service covers almost all of the city, with a base fare of 0.70 leva and 0.40 leva/km, but no less than three leva as a minimum fare.
Founded in San Francisco in 2009, Uber has expanded across the globe, but has proven controversial with city authorities and existing taxi-cab companies, which argue that Uber’s competitive pricing advantage comes from not being subject to existing regulations on the industry (in Sofia, legitimate cabs carry the same base fare of 0.70 leva, but charge 0.79 leva/km during the day and 0.9 leva at night).
Some cities have banned the service, threatening large fines against drivers using it. The company also received bad publicity last week after one of its drivers was arrested on rape charges in India, with Uber accused of not running background checks.