Karamarie Joyce ‘15
You may have heard of Uber, heck you may have even used its services before and still have no idea what this company is. Headquartered in San Francisco, this app-based transportation network, has been making national headlines.
Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp founded the company in 2009; the two launched the service in California in 2010. Originally named Ubercab, the company dropped the “cab” to market themselves in a different way. Since 2009, the company has developed different variations of Uber, “Uberblack” for a more excusive ride, titled after the black cars private transportation services in New York City, “UberX” for services from any qualified driver with an acceptable vehicle, and “UberPop” which authorizes unqualified drivers to pick up riders as Uber provides supplemental insurance for them.
Uber was created to provide safe rides at a fair cost for people all over. Whether you are in a major city or a town in the middle of nowhere, there is sure to be an Uber driver near you. The most recent records of the company state that as of December 16, 2014, the service is now available in 53 countries and operating in more than 200 cities worldwide.
Why use Uber? Why not call a taxi from an accredited taxi service? The main reasons customers chose to use Uber are because of the convenience, and the price of rides, Uber charges significantly lower fees than most traditional taxi services.
Uber is simple to use, just download the app, it is available for free on both Android and iPhone in the app store. After downloading, you create a profile with your name and payment information, you must enter a credit or debit card number to use the service. The app then asks permission to have access to your location, so that drivers near you are able to receive your pick up request.
The hiring and payment of the drivers is handled entirely through Uber. The price is calculated on a time basis rather than distance.
While this is great news for the passenger, this service came out of nowhere and grew to become a problem to taxi drivers. Taxi drivers, their employers, and several government officials have protested the company. Their beliefs are that Uber “is an illegal taxicab operation that engages in unfair business practices and compromises passenger safety.” As the company continues to grow disputes with the government become more extreme. Being banned in Spain and two cities in India, and causing debates in the government of both U.S. and Australia.
Who are Uber drivers? People just like you trying to make some extra money in an easy time efficient way. Uber promotes itself to potential employees with the slogan “MAKE GOOD MONEY _ DRIVE WHEN YOU WANT_ NO OFFICE, NO BOSS”
Director of the Merrimack Media Center Kevin Salemme stated the following on the service “ It sounds like a good idea if you want to get picked up by the craigslist killer”
Not just anyone can become a driver; interested drivers must complete a short online application found on the Uber website for initial consideration. The application asks questions related to their personal information and their automobile. Next they must upload the required documents: Drivers License, Vehicle Registration, and Proof of Insurance. Uber officials also run a background check on the individual and insist on their car be inspected. Driver’s cars must have no visible dents, and be 4 door vehicles.
Is it safe? Getting in a stranger’s car? Passengers are asked to rate their experience 1-5 after their ride, these ratings are visible to potential riders when seeking an Uber, giving them an idea of what past riders thought of their drivers.
Senior Dana Tuccelli said, “I’ve used Uber, I can see the good and bad aspects of it. It’s scary because it’s a stranger, but it’s the same thing when you take a taxi”
Jayson Joyce a driver in Chicago said the following about his decision to become an Uber driver “I am a 4th grade teacher, I’m 25 years old and needed extra money for flights back home to Mass, rent, and to help with my student loans. I looked into Uber and am very happy I did. I make my own schedule, and can make a lot of extra money depending on how much time I put into driving that week. I let my passengers pick the Pandora station we listen to during the ride and have gotten great ratings from all those who ride with me.”
Whether you need a ride to the store, the airport, or a safe ride home from the bar, consider using Uber to get you where you need to go.