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!
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.” That’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.
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.
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.
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?