July 15, 2014
A popular ride-share app is looking into expanding to Charlottesville.
Uber has been talking to local cab drivers and posting jobs online to figure out if they should expand into our market.
In a statement Uber said “We often test ads to measure the viability of Uber-X in different markets. We are excited about the potential opportunity to connect riders and drivers in Charlottesville."
Uber is just one of the ridesharing programs have been taking off recently. It’s a simple concept. You open an app on your phone, request a ride, and it links you up with an Uber driver. But an Uber driver does not have to be a taxi cab driver, and doesn't go through a taxi company. It could be almost anyone...and that’s where it can get complicated.
Fans of uber say it gives you options. Instead of having to wait to find a cab a smartphone app links you up with a ride. The app has GPS and real time arrival estimates for customers so they don't have to wait outside. Job listings for uber have been popping up in Charlottesville. It's pretty simple. To be an Uber driver you just have to have a car, be at least 23, with a valid license and insurance. But what does that mean for the people that already make their living on fares?
Yellow cab driver Catherine Chege says she is worried this is going to cut into her bottom line.
"It would be bad, yes. It would be bad because somebody is taking my business away.”
She says there is already a shortage of income for cab drivers when the students are gone for the summer without adding competition.
"In the summer the students are away and it’s not busy. I'm just struggling."
But independent cab drivers say this is a great idea.
"All these independents, they can take the passenger in their own car and they can make money."
Absolute Taxi driver Ahmed-Abdadalla Haydar has been driving a car in Charlottesville since he moved here from Sudan 15 years ago. He plans on tapping into Uber's system if they come to town and using his existing car.
"I can drive this car and work for them. I can take their order in this car. I love them. They are doing good better business in every way."
Uber has run into some legal trouble in Virginia.
The DMV sent out a cease and desist letter for illegally operating in the state last month.
But they announced last week they are reviewing their application, which could clear the way for Charlottesville to become one of their next markets.