Oscars: Will Stars Swap Limos for Uber?
The lines of stretch limos pulling up on Hollywood Boulevard are as much an Oscar tradition as the flowing gowns and glittering jewels, but the popular car service is changing the way people travel -- even to the awards.
With an estimated $4 million spent last year on limousine services to Hollywood's biggest night and around 1,200 cars expected to pull up outside Dolby Theatre on Sunday, the Oscars are big business for both drivers and car companies.
While the shiny black stretch limo, in which you can pop a bottle of bubbly in the back seat will not disappear from the awards show horizon, the increasing popularity of car services such as Uber and Lyft do give passengers new options.
Since it launched two years ago, Uber has changed the way people travel in Los Angeles. Unlike New York, where you can jump in a yellow cab on any street corner, taxis have long been notoriously hard to come by and expensive even for short distances.
Now some passengers are more likely to tap an app on their cell phone than call a cab, and the company -- that began in San Francisco and has since expanded to 70 cities -- is hoping to win big over Oscar weekend.
Stars such as Neil Patrick Harris, Edward Norton and Ashton Kutcher have already expressed their Uber-devotion on Twitter, with Kutcher being an outspoken investor in the GPS-oriented car service.
However, with Uber, the 23 miles from Santa Monica to Hollywood costs $23-$99 depending on if you opt for an uberX (using the driver's own car), an UberBLACK town car or an UberSUV that fits six people.
"The Uber L.A. team is ready for Hollywood’s big night. We anticipate that people will be using uberX, UberBLACK and UberSUV to get to and from Oscar parties safely, reliably and in style all weekend long," said spokesperson Andrew Noyes.
"Whether it's a typical day in L.A. or an awards season weekend, we're focused on ensuring that people can get a safe, stylish, convenient ride when and where they want it," Noyes said.
Just like with red carpet fashions, transportation trends come and go. The territory on the tarmac that was once exclusively inhabited by mammoth stretch limos, then became a hot bed for environmentally-friendly cars -- such as in 2003 when stars including Cameron Diaz, Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart arrived in eco-friendly Toyota Priuses -- is now packed with high-end SUVs, many of which could have Uber drivers behind the wheel.
There are those A-list stars who are always going to want to stick to their own personal driver who can act as bodyguard, traffic negotiator and even dog-sitter, but for many of Hollywood's new generation - especially those party-hopping to the countless swanky affairs around town -- tapping into the Uber app is a convenient and yet-stylish way to hit the road.