By Amber Joseph
Apps like Uber are putting the power into the consumers’ hands. Ten years ago, we never would have believed that apps could change the way we operate. Uber, a ride-sharing app, has made calling for a taxi or having a designated driver obsolete tasks.
Uber Changes Public Transportation
Founded in 2009, Uber has changed public transportation. When you need a ride, the app will find the nearest driver to you and send a car your way. Payment can be made through the app as well, making it an easy experience.
The idea is revolutionary. Founders Garrett Camp and Travis Kalinick say, “Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders.”
Uber's Success Influences New Apps
Uber experienced a 400 percent growth from 2013-2015. The app is available in hundreds of cities spanning across 60 countries. It employees more than 160,000 drivers; by comparison Amazon has less than 150,000 employees.
This has become such a popular trend in society, but what makes it so special?
Why Use Uber?
RC public relations junior, Alyssa Yakey says she loves using Uber because it is convenient and safe. “I know that because of this app there are fewer drunk drivers out there and my friends who use it will get home safely,” Yakey says.
Wayne State student Jerrod Joseph, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, says he likes Uber because of the low cost and the opportunity for safety at the end of a night out.
“Some nights we go out and no one wants to be the designated driver. At the end of the night, we call an Uber and it’s a lot safer than relying on somebody who was out with you to drive,” he said.
Besides that, using Uber can be cheaper than gas and parking in the city. A ride from Rochester to Detroit usually ranges around $20. By the time you would pay for parking downtown and gas, it would be much more than that. Using Uber saves you much-needed dollars.
Uber also has a “split cost” feature in its app, so if you and a few friends are sharing the ride you can split cost right on the app.
Uber is all about usability. It wants its users to be able to access a ride as easily and painlessly as possible, and the company is constantly making improvements. Uber is expanding to new cities all the time, bringing this low-cost option all over the world.
However, in the past few years, Uber has been surrounded by controversy because of acts of violence by a few Uber drivers.
Fewer Restrictions to Become an Uber Driver
Licensed taxi drivers have to pass tests, background checks, pay to apply and often go through courses in order to drive the general public.
By comparison, Uber drivers only have to pass a background check and drive a car less than 15 years old. The company has been under fire for this by government agencies and the general public, saying that its drivers are unfit to be responsible for public safety.
Taxi Companies Protesting Uber's Existence
Uber has also been in debate with several local, state and national governments. Uber does not pay taxes or licensing fees, so many are saying that Uber is operating illegally.
Taxi companies are also joining in on the fight. Many companies and drivers are saying that Uber is stealing their business and operating unfairly.
In Detroit, protests ensued in July 2015. More than 30 Detroit cab drivers surrounded the Coleman A. Young City building asking the city to do something about Uber drivers in Detroit.
However, Uber representative Leor Reef told the Detroit Free Press that the company has been an asset in Michigan and people having transportation choices is not a problem.
“Since we launched in 2013, Uber has improved the quality of life for thousands of Michiganders, connecting more than two million rides in the Mitten State and creating thousands of driver jobs,” Reef said.
Choice to Use Uber in People's Hands
Ultimately, the choice is in the people’s hands. In a city such as Detroit where public transportation is not readily available, Uber has been a welcome option for consumers. While Detroit is working to improve its transportation options, Uber is filling a need that current companies cannot fill.
For college students, Uber is a welcome option. Rides are cheaper than a taxi would be and easier to get. For students on limited budgets, this is an attractive option. After a night out, Uber is also a good option for students. Safety should always be important and if a ride is cheap, that means that students can get home safely.
Although Uber has been the center of controversy, the pros seem to outweigh the cons, especially for college students. If you have not used Uber before, grab a group of friends, download the app and check it out.