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Uber Winning Over Business Traveler Market

U.S. business travelers are increasingly using Uber for rides they report on expense forms, with taxi and Uber rides now neck-and-neck overall — but with significant differences between cities, according to Certify.

In March, taxis carried 52 percent of rides reported on expense reports that Certify processed, while Uber drivers carried 47 percent. Lyft drivers carried 1 percent of the rides.

That’s a dramatic swing from just a year ago, when taxis got 85 percent of the expensed business rides and Uber got 16 percent. The taxi share has been eroding steadily for the past 12 months with one exception: In blizzard-socked January, Uber’s share jumped, but then fell back slightly in the February expense reports, while taxis dropped more than usual in January but regained a little ground in February.

In eight U.S. cities broken out in the Certify statistics for Q1 2015, business travelers are using Uber more than taxis in San Francisco (71 percent to 29 percent) and Dallas (56 percent to 44 percent), while it’s a dead heat in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles (51 percent taxi to 49 percent Uber), and in Atlanta taxis still have a 59-to-41-percent edge. But taxis still hold a strong lead in New York City (79 percent), Miami (77 percent) and Chicago (75 percent).

The Uber rides also cost slightly less, with an average ride (including uberX, uberXL, uberPLUS, Uber Taxi, UberBLACK, UberSUV and UberLUX) at $31.24 in Q1 2015. The average taxi fare (including taxis, limousines and airport shuttles) was $35.40. Certify didn’t break that out on a city-by-city basis, so it’s hard to tell whether high taxi usage in New York and Chicago, where cab fares are more expensive, may have skewed the cost numbers.

While the numbers vary from city to city, the overall statistics suggest that Uber has reduced taxi companies’ income from the lucrative business-traveler market by 39 percent in the past year. That may be an even bigger reason for them to go after Uber in court than the fact that Uber has eroded the price of taxi medallions.

And while Uber has taken a big bite out of business-traveler taxi rides where it’s available, it has just nibbled at car rentals. A year ago, car rentals represented 39 percent of the car expense items on travel expense reports that Certify processed, while it has now dropped only slightly to 36 percent. (Certify didn’t indicate whether those numbers were based on cost or trips.)

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