Ride-sharing service Uber launches in Lexington

June 13, 2014 

Uber, an increasingly popular smartphone-based ride-sharing service, launched in Lexington on Friday.

The service launched at 3 p.m. Friday, according to the company. Uber will offer free rides through June 26 if customers use the promo code LEXFREE.

San Francisco-based Uber describes itself as an "ultra-reliable, cost-efficient ride-sharing option." Uber.com says that when a customer requests a ride through its app, available on Apple and Google devices, he or she will be met by "a driver in a mid-range or hybrid vehicle with seating for up to four people."

The company says all its drivers pass a rigorous screening process that involves a background check, a driving-history check and "ongoing quality controls." It also says, "All Uber rides are backed by the driver's insurance policy as well as our corporate insurance policy."

Uber's arrival in Lexington comes on the heels of rival Lyft's launch in Central Kentucky in April.

This week, Uber also launched in Toledo, Ohio; Rio de Janeiro; and Jakarta, Indonesia. The 4-year-old company has expanded internationally into more than 100 cities in 36 countries. It opened in Louisville and Cincinnati earlier this spring.

Last week, Uber announced that it had raised $1.2 billion from investors at an enormous valuation of $17 billion, one of the highest ever attained by a startup.

The company is not without its detractors, though.

On Wednesday, taxi drivers in Europe staged protests over the rise of Uber by stopping in the middle of streets and shutting down major portions of cities across the continent.

Some state and city officials in the United States have asked whether ride-sharing services violate laws.

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