The popular ridesharing service, Uber, made its official South Carolina debut launching in the cities of Charleston, Greenville, Columbia, and Myrtle Beach. At the touch of a button, the Uber mobile app connects users who need a ride with its network of drivers ready to offer rides in their personal vehicles.
Founded in 2009, the Silicon Valley-based, fast-growing startup has been rapidly expanding its services from San Francisco into 41 countries and 84 cities across the U.S.
Using the Uber app for Android or iPhone, users can request a ride from the closest available drivers to their location, see photos of the drivers, the cars they are driving, the drivers’ locations, and receive push notifications about their ride’s whereabouts.
Charleston will receive Uber’s low-cost service, UberX, which aims to disrupt the taxi industry by allowing drivers to use their own hybrid vehicles at a lower price point. In order to be an UberX partner, drivers must pass a background and driving history check. Drivers are not licensed chauffeurs and not required to get “vehicle for hire” licenses.
The app allows users to set a pickup location and enter your pickup and drop-off location to receive a fare quote. Fares are charged to the rider’s credit card on file or PayPal account so there are no cash transactions. The app can also split your fare between friends so that each rider will be charged equally. Fares can change depending on the demand of users requesting rides and number of available drivers. A ride from King St. to North Charleston will cost around $15; Downtown Charleston to Charleston Intl. Airport will cost just under $30. After the trip, users can rate their experience and leave additional feedback about the driver.
Uber’s introduction of UberX into South Carolina cities has not come without conflict as city officials claim Uber does not have the proper permits to operate as a transportation service in the state. According to the Post and Courier, the issue is whether Uber would fall under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission’s regulatory authority. Uber may be required to follow the same rules as taxi companies in the state – which could involve vehicle inspections, more thorough background checks on drivers and keeping commercial auto insurance on file with the state for each driver. Uber has responded by stating it is not a transportation company but a technology company.
An Uber representative said, ‘We’re a technology company that connects riders to drivers with the safest ride on the road. The bottom line is we’ve received overwhelmingly positive support from riders in South Carolina who are excited for access to safe, affordable and reliable transportation alternatives, and from drivers who rely on the increased economic opportunities and flexibility Uber provides. We look forward to continuing conversations with city and state officials to modernize regulations and find a permanent home for Uber in South Carolina.’
Learn more about Uber in the video: