Uber, the consumerdriven taxi-like service, has caught on among college students in the city of New Orleans because of its technology-friendly user platform. According to Uber. com the company was founded in 2009. Uber Technologies Inc. allows consumers with smart phones to send a ride request through its free app. The service, which boasts over 8 million users across the nation, provides users features like exact arrival time for the driver and a map to locate your driver.
But the trend is not without local controversy across the country and the New Orleans metropolitan area. Jefferson Parish officials have begun to push back on Uber drivers because drivers lack a certificate of Public Necessity and a designated driving permit that’s issued by the parish, according to Jefferson Parish Attorney Office. Jefferson Parish officials are trying to come up with a way to shut down the app from being used in the parish.
Officials said in an Oct. 7 parish council meeting that they are trying to get the courts to prohibit Uber drivers from operating throughout the parish because of safety concerns. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, on the other hand, said he welcomes the service in the city. Landrieu said in a press release last fall that he feels Uber is good for the city’s residents and visitors because “their technology model is superior,” a feature particularly useful for the city’s tourism economy.
Riders say compared to old fashioned taxi services, Uber offers more convenience and fast arrival times, clear pricing, options like UberX, UberXL, and two luxury options UberBLACK and UberSUV. The various Uber levels allow users the option to ride in luxury vehicles, and seats up to six riders at different price points.
“I kind of imagined it to be more of a taxi ride, but the vehicle was very clean,” said Tayler Foe, a senior pharmacy major and New Orleans native. “I loved that my driver provided a charger that was compatible for my phone. Leon was very friendly, and made my first Uber ride comfortable. I’ll definitely be using it again,” Foe said.
Students also say that the drivers go out of their way to personalize the experience for riders.
“I liked my driver because he was really open to the type of music my friends and I wanted to listen to,” said Ernest Lumpkins, a senior business-accounting major and New Orleans native. “He was very funny and engaged in conversation with us. He was a retired construction worker, and he decided to work for Uber just for the heck of it. I would definitely recommend Uber, it’s an experience you won’t forget.”
The service has not been without some safety concerns. There have been several occasions where riders have been attacked or assaulted globally
“I wouldn’t say that Uber is totally safe, but I do feel like cabs are safer, because of the vetting cab drivers typically go through,” said Assistant Chief Albert Cornish of Xavier University Campus Police department. “There are always cons of riding any form of public transportation.”
Cornish added that students should be just as diligent with the service as they would with any public transportation.
“Students should do their own research on the company beforehand, and keep in mind that it is not regulated unlike taxi cab services,” Cornish said. “You really don’t know who you’re getting in the car with. Uber is fairly new to the city and I am not aware of any incidents thus far.”
Uber is also attractive because it serves as a form of employment, particularly for students looking for part-time jobs. According to Uber.com, you must pass a background check; a Department of Motor Vehicle check; and own a licensed and registered vehicle. Those are few requirements needed to use the service as a source of income. On average, Uber drivers earn as high as $1200 a week.
“I am a full time Uber driver for the time being and the highest I have earned so far in a day is $454.60,” said Leon Kacy, who has been employed by Uber since August 2015. “I enjoy meeting new people and being able to assist them.”
Kacy said his biggest challenge so far was having to pick up and drop off a blind woman. “She had a service dog to assist her, but just imagine if she had a less concerned driver, things could have ended badly,” Kacy said.
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