Note: As of April 2018, UberX service is suspended in Athens, whereas UberTAXI service remains in place.
International ride-sharing (or ride-hailing) company Uber offers three versions of its service in Greece's largest city of Athens. You can either ride with a driver in his or her own vehicle using the Uber X service or have a more taxi-like experience using UberTAXI.
How Uber Works
Uber is a downloadable smartphone app which allows users to book a car and pay for it, so there is no cash exchanged between the rider and the driver, and the driver never has access to the rider's credit card or other payment information. In its most popular version, Uber X, drivers use their own cars. For other services like Uber Black, a luxury car service, or UberTAXI, passengers can choose more professional vehicles and drivers.
The idea of a "private" car being used to ferry around people is the image that Uber promotes, but in many cities, a good percentage of the drivers are either former taxi drivers or experienced drivers who are finding this a more convenient income stream.
Rules for Riding with Uber
The rules governing Uber varies from city to city. Some cities require drivers to undergo driving and background checks beyond those that Uber conducts. In other places, entirely new transportation categories have been introduced to cover Uber and other ride-sharing services, to ensure that drivers and passengers are protected by some kind of insurance.
Uber's expansion has been swift, and it's run into regulatory hurdles in almost all the cities where it expands for either skirting or avoiding transportation laws covering taxis and other car-for-hire services.
And particularly in European cities, taxi drivers' protests have greeted new expansions of Uber; their argument is that by not following the same licensing and training rules, Uber has introduced unfair competition.
Cities in Greece Where Uber Operates
Uber launched in Athens in 2014. As of this writing, the service is restricted to the Greater Athens area, with Uber X, Uber X Plus and UberTAXI available for trips from Athens to nearby points, and Athens International Airport.
Uber Advantages in Greece
Uber filled in the gap between the "public" taxis and the "private" or "radio" taxis which previously dominated the landscape. It costs extra to call a taxi in Greece, rather than trusting your ability to hail a vacant one down on the street. And vacant or partly full public taxis may stop to pick up additional passengers along a route, something that can distress tourists.
How to Use Uber
You need a smartphone to access the Uber app. While you can access Uber via the web (or in some cities via a phone call), to activate the service initially, you need a smartphone connection.
If you are using your cell phone abroad, make sure that you have a package that allows international use at a reasonable price, or any savings you might get by using Uber may be wiped out.