Uber vs. Morgantown Taxi Services…is there really any competition here?

Uber – at this point everyone knows what it is, but about a year ago, Morgantown didn’t have access to it. On July 19, 2016, the Uber app started operating in West Virginia and it changed the way students got around campus.

Previously, Motown Taxi  and Yellow Cab were two of the only cab services in the area students could use to get around; however, they are not very efficient when it comes to timeliness, availability and safety.

Mountaineer News Service from the Reed College of Media reported on this issue in their article titled, “Will Morgantown ever hail a second cab company?” In the article they interviewed Amanda Jo Greaver, a Morgantown resident. She often used Yellow Cab to get to and from work everyday, but one day, she was faced with a very awkward situation. Greaver explained,

“He [the taxi cab driver] asked me to pee in the backseat on the floorboard and he’d give me a free ride.”

If you think that is ridiculous, there is more!

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 4.57.01 PMScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 4.57.52 PMScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 4.59.10 PM

Greaver clearly isn’t the only person who has ever had problems with Morgantown Taxi Services. Dana Gutierrez, a senior Criminology major, explained that she had many problems with them as well.

“When I was a freshman and lived in Towers, there were nights my friends and I would go out and miss the last bus of the night,” Gutierrez explained. “Walking home late at night is not necessarily safe so we would try and call for a cab. Literally every night they were either too busy to answer or would say they would send someone in 45 minutes to an hour. At that point, we figured we might as well just start walking the mile plus home.” Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 4.57.32 PMScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 4.58.08 PMThat’s really scary to think about – a mile plus walk home after a night of drinking is a serious hazard for not only female students, but male students too.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 4.58.59 PM

For me personally, I am from Baltimore, Maryland and have a lot of access to multiple taxi services, Uber, and Lyft. I was hoping, praying, that the Uber bill would get passed and be accessible in Morgantown. Finally, it was!

In an article by the DA titled, “Uber seeks to become dominant force in ridesharing,” the writer explains what Uber is and why it is helpful for Morgantown:

“Uber is the largest of a handful of ridesharing companies that have begun to challenge the taxi industry. On the Uber model, virtually anyone with a decent car, a smartphone and a clear criminal record can sign up to drive, and anyone with the Uber app can ask for a ride. When drivers are available, the app will match them to the nearest waiting customer. Payment is automatically taken from the passenger’s credit card upon reaching their destination, and the driver gets paid after Uber takes a percentage of the cost.

The efficiency of this approach has allowed Uber to take over huge shares of transportation markets in several major cities. This does not seem accidental, as multiple independent studies have found ridesharing approaches have lower average wait times and quicker rides than conventional approaches, such as taxi services.”

Not only is it an easier and more efficient way to get a ride, passengers know who the driver is, what their car looks like, the car’s license plate number, and can see the driver’s rating from past customers. This allows passengers to feel more comfortable and safe while getting to and from their destination.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 5.25.11 PM

But the question comes to – is your safety more important or the amount of money you spend? For me, I would spend any amount of money to ensure that I arrive at my destination without any harm to myself or my friends; however not everyone feels that way.

Uber surge charges…have you heard of them? I would go about explaining it, but Uber already has.

“During times of high demand for rides, fares may increase to make sure those who need a ride can get one. For riders, surge helps ensure that pickup is available quickly and reliably. For driver-partners, surge means higher fares and a steady stream of ride requests. When you’re online, your app displays areas with high demand for rides in shades of red. The deeper the shade of red, the greater that area’s demand.”

So as for a Morgantown example – on game days, surge prices may increase. Obviously everyone is trying to get home (or to the bar) from the football, basketball, etc. games as soon as possible. Uber will surge their prices because more people will be looking to get rides during that time frame…and basically because they know people will still pay it. These surge prices can be anywhere from 1.5x the original fare or up to extreme prices like 12x the normal fare. Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 5.25.41 PMScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 5.25.32 PM

At the end of the day, I want to be safe. So if that means I pay extra, I will do it. I am also aware that not everyone has those funds available.

Looking from a totally different angle, Uber coming to Morgantown has opened up a lot more jobs. So even if you aren’t using the service for a ride, it is a great way for students and residents to get some extra cash on the side!

With all of the good and and, somewhat, bad aspects of Uber, students seem to be picking Uber over Morgantown taxi services. In retaliation, Yellow Cab has set up a taxi stand on High Street that operates on a flat rate from 8pm to 5am. Good idea, but are people using it?

Now that it’s all laid out for you, what do you all think? Would you choose Uber or one of the Morgantown taxi services to get around campus? Or (PLOT TWIST) would you choose neither?

8 thoughts on “Uber vs. Morgantown Taxi Services…is there really any competition here?

  1. First of all this post was really nice. Those tweets you added into it really helped to put the craziness of catching a cab into perspective. Personally I haven’t really used cabs that much. Being a guy I also think that the situations experienced by the female tweeters you used would have never happened to me. Mainly because it would have taken all of my might to not punch the cab driver in the mouth. It makes me worry too. I have a girlfriend who goes to school here. Luckily she gets rides from friends when she needs to get home but what if she has to take a cab? I hate to think what convo’s she would get from the creeps that may drive those cab cars. All I know is that Uber being here is a great thing. It lowers my chances of having to beat up a cab driver for getting smart with my lady. But any who, great blog. It was an interesting read.

    Like

  2. I HATE taxi’s in Morgantown. Freshman year I had my car parked across campus. I usually got to it by taking the PRT. The PRT (per usual) was down so I called a taxi. After 40 minutes of waiting, the PRT was back up so I rode it. I got to my car and was at the gas station when the taxi guy called me saying her arrived. I had places to be, it was unprofessional and unreliable. Uber is 100X faster and I will pay a surge charge any day over calling a taxi.

    Like

  3. Ashley Conley

    Carly,

    You did a great job with this post! I took a taxi only once in Morgantown and once was one too many times! It was very sketchy and I felt totally unsafe. Plus, the car was not nice or clean and made all kinds of terrible sounds. And like you mentioned above, the timeliness was awful! It took over an HOUR for the taxi to get there. I think Uber is a much better option. It seems safer to me because the drivers are regulated by the company. Also, the cars that I’ve been in have all been a lot nicer than the average taxi because people use their personal vehicles that are usually well-kept. I really liked how you added tweets from students because afterall, students on a college campus use car resources all the time to get from place to place and they have lots of opinions on the subject. Nice work!

    Like

  4. Carly,
    I agree! I have had some experience with Morgantown Taxi myself. They were not awful, but not something I would rave about. I have heard Uber drivers talk about how the president of Morgantown Taxi will call an Uber and cancel after 4 minutes. The taxi company is clearly feeling the effects of Uber coming to town. The cab service has long wait times that just can’t compete with Uber.
    Lyft is also now in Morgantown, so I’m sure this will cause even more tension for cab companies.
    I do see a line outside of the Yellow Cab stand on high street when the surge is high. At least that company has found a way to find Uber’s weaknesses and remain in business.

    Like

  5. Laura Andrea

    I didn’t really even know people took taxis until I saw the stand pop up on High Street. Surge prices suck, but on not crazy weekends they usually pop up on the dot and half past the hour. I usually wait a couple of minutes and it goes down to something reasonable. Hopefully Uber’s success will motivate Lyft to branch out here. I don’t know if that’ll help reduce prices, but it’ll be nice to have more options.

    Like

  6. This is a really great, in-depth post! You went over the options in Morgantown really well while also inputting a bit of everyone’s experiences and the series that are available to you in Baltimore. Personally, I think Uber really outdated the Taxi business. The fact that you have an app that can track exactly where your Uber is and when it’s going to get there is really nice. I also love the safety aspects of it. For example, my friend was really drunk one night and I got him an Uber home. I was able to watch on the GPS the driver take him his house, so I knew when he got there safe. Additionally, and this is all anecdotal, I have a lot of friends in emergency services and they have responded to several calls of taxi drivers in Morgantown being overdosed and slumped in their taxis, or even running into buildings… WHILE THEY WERE ON THE CLOCK. So yeah, I’m good without the taxis.

    Like

  7. Pingback: Read & Respond week 16 – Best of US! | Interactive Journalism

  8. Pingback: Turmoil around the county but maybe not in Morgantown… – Morgantown Night Life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s