Uber offers Baltimore customers luxury ride by app

A San Francisco-based technology company launched an app-based service in Baltimore Thursday that will let customers hire a luxury town car by smart phone.

Uber, which bills itself as "Everyone's Private Driver," allows subscribers who download the company app to set their pickup location and request a ride. The company uses GPS technology to find the nearest driver for the pickup. The entire transaction — including 20 percent tip — is processed through the customer's account. Uber charges about double the city's taxi fare schedule but below what it would cost to hire a private car by traditional means.

The company doesn't own vehicles or employ drivers. It contracts with drivers of for-hire luxury vehicles.

The service is available in 15 cities as well as London, Berlin and Paris. The company launched its Washington, D.C., operation in late 2011.

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