Uber launches rides in Columbia

4 years 3 months 1 week ago Thursday, October 09 2014 Oct 9, 2014 Thursday, October 09, 2014 1:42:00 PM CDT October 09, 2014 in News
By: Amanda LaBrot, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - The popular personal car service Uber launched in Columbia Thursday.

The app operates in cities across the country and abroad. It allows riders to request a car using GPS and pay straight from their cell phones.

Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine said the city just found out the company was planning to launch this week.

"I was very shocked to hear on Tuesday, when they arranged a conference call, that they were going to start operations today, Thursday, which was very much a surprise," St. Romaine said.

Uber's General manager for regional expansion, Pooneet Kant, said while the company has been considering expanding to Columbia for a couple of months, it didn't have a specific start date.

"It's not like we've been planning for three months to launch on Oct. 9," Kant said. "It sort of depends on how many drivers are available in the system, so that's something we've had our eye on for a while. But we have started the conversation with the city, and we look forward to working closely with them."

St. Romaine has used Uber in three other cities and said he had good experiences as a customer. But as an administrator he had some concerns about driver background checks and vehicle insurance and safety inspections.

Kant said a county, multiple state and federal background checks are the first step for every driver. He said Uber has an overarching $1 million insurance policy and there are specific requirements for each driver's vehicle. Kant said the company's feedback system is the best way to ensure quality and safety.

"Honestly, the way we keep quality really high, beyond the background check process, is out two way feedback system," Kant said. "So after every ride, users are prompted to rate their drivers on a scale from one to five stars. We monitor those ratings in real time and take appropriate action if there's ever an issue that causes a low rating. That works both ways. Driver rate passengers and passengers rate drivers."Kelsey Arends, who lives in Columbia, started using Uber when she worked in Washington, D.C. this past summer.

"Uber is very big in D.C.," Arends said. "In fact, the taxis had a strike because Uber was taking over all of their services because it's great."

She said she likes that Uber is less expensive than a traditonal taxi, and she said she's never felt unsafe using the service.

"I've talked to a couple Uber drivers before, and they all get background checks and go through a process," Arends said. "They always get me from point A to point B, and they're always very respectful."

Now, St. Romaine said the city will have to figure out how to regulate Uber.

"The problem I think here is the fact that a lot of folks try to put Uber and companies like Uber into the category of being a taxi operator," St. Romaine said. "That's where I think we have a lot of problems, because a lot of our taxi ordinances were created decades ago, and we have regulations, laws ordinances, polices that aren't keeping up with the ingenuity technology has now created."

For the next week, rides are free using the code COMOFREE.

Here's a look at Twitter's reaction to the launch:

Related Stories

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Latest on Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's budget and State of the State address Wednesday... More >>
2 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 9:55:00 PM CST January 16, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is proposing a $351 million bond to repair or replace 250... More >>
2 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 9:29:00 PM CST January 16, 2019 in News
Watch KOMU 8 newscasts and download the KOMU WX app for live coverage and alerts. COLUMBIA - Another winter... More >>
5 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 7:23:00 PM CST January 16, 2019 in Weather
COLUMBIA- Lately, mid-Missourians have had the chance to build a snowman or go sledding and then eventually warm up next... More >>
5 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 7:08:00 PM CST January 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA – An expert warns that two snow events, one after the other, may affect your roof. Although city... More >>
5 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 6:38:00 PM CST January 16, 2019 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The man killed after allegedly shooting at St. Louis detectives was facing charges for shooting a... More >>
7 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 5:15:00 PM CST January 16, 2019 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A former student alleges in a lawsuit that Drury University didn't protect her after she was sexually... More >>
7 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 5:06:00 PM CST January 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The friend of a man killed on Sarazen Drive over the weekend says investigators told him John Albers... More >>
8 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 3:46:00 PM CST January 16, 2019 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A University of Missouri-Kansas City professor has resigned after being accused of coercing foreign graduate students... More >>
9 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 2:46:00 PM CST January 16, 2019 in News
SPRINGFIELD — A Missouri health provider will have to pay tens of millions of dollars to a former patient... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 1:13:00 PM CST January 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Applications are now available for a giveaway designed to provide computers for low-income families. The city relinquishes... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 12:26:00 PM CST January 16, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Attorney general Eric Schmitt announced a settlement with Fiat Chrysler and auto parts supplier Bosch over unlawful... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 11:05:00 AM CST January 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri will open residence halls a day earlier than planned amid predictions of another winter... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 10:04:00 AM CST January 16, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Governor Mike Parson will give his first State of the State address in the Missouri House... More >>
16 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 7:25:00 AM CST January 16, 2019 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — Staring down the next deadline to pay federal workers, the White House shifted tactics, trying to bypass... More >>
19 hours ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 4:57:00 AM CST January 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Mayoral incumbent Brian Treece and opponent, Chris Kelly, faced off in the second mayoral candidate forum Tuesday. ... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 15 2019 Jan 15, 2019 Tuesday, January 15, 2019 9:27:00 PM CST January 15, 2019 in News
OVERLAND (AP) — The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis is investigating a fatal shooting outside a McDonald's restaurant... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 15 2019 Jan 15, 2019 Tuesday, January 15, 2019 4:37:00 PM CST January 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A new bill before the Senate would ban texting and driving for drivers of all ages. It's... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 15 2019 Jan 15, 2019 Tuesday, January 15, 2019 4:24:00 PM CST January 15, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 35°
1am 33°
2am 33°
3am 33°
4am 33°