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Uber wants to add more drivers here

An Uber surge is coming.

Uber

Eighteen months after launching in Houston, Uber, the popular ride-sharing service known for its conflicts with regulators, plans to add 5,000 drivers in the area over the next year.

Uber leaders, staff of the nonprofit Change Happens and local NAACP leaders on Thursday are expected to announce a partnership aimed at recruiting drivers, especially in underserved areas where the new hires might fill a growing demand. The announcement will be at the nonprofit’s headquarters in the Third Ward.

“Our driver-partners live all over the city,” said Sarfraz Maredia, general manager of Uber Houston, which claims to have provided 3.5 million rides to more than 1 million users in Houston. “We’re seeing demand throughout the city grow. … The partnership is focused on economic empowerment in the city, creating incremental opportunities.”

[…]

Uber representatives said they were pleased that wait times in the Third Ward, a predominantly poor, African-American neighborhood in southeast Houston, averaged seven minutes. This is slightly longer than typical waits in high-traffic areas such as the central business district and Montrose area, but far less than some residents report waiting for a cab.

“It can take 30 minutes to get a cab,” said Freddie Jackson, 40, as he waited for a light rail train along Scott Street near Elgin.

Jackson, who does not own a car, said he hasn’t tried Uber, but his nephew, who lives with him, has. Based on what he’s heard, he would try it, Jackson said.

Uber driver Lateefah Eburuche said more people east of Texas 288 would use the service once word of mouth lets them know it is available. Eburuche said when she began driving for Uber shortly after the company launched in Houston, trips were all circulating around NRG Park and western neighborhoods.

“Now it’s surging over here,” said Eburuche, who also lives in the Third Ward.

Much of that demand comes from students at the University of Houston and Texas Southern University, she said. South of the campuses, Eburuche said, she believes many people would ride if drivers were available.

“The lady that lives next to me has to be 80 and catches a cab twice a week,” Eburuche said. “Last week she took an Uber for the first time. If the cabs are doing well, Uber would do well.”

Say what you want about Uber, this is a smart strategy. They’re aiming at a market that’s both underserved by traditional cabs and more likely to be in need of them. They still have to recruit and keep all those drivers, and they have to get the Uber app out to the people they want to use the service, but they’ve got the pieces in place. And if they succeed, it will be strong evidence (as the story suggests) that the city’s more stringent background check requirements aren’t too onerous for Uber. More onerous than they might have liked, sure, but not so much that they can’t succeed. I wonder if Lyft will come to regret its decision to pull out.

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One Comment

  1. Joshua bend bullard says:

    Mayor Parker has selectively allowed uber unlimited drivers however she still disallow s unlimited taxi drivers-ffederal transportation study’s prove this is a direcdirect assault on Houston’s low income community-parker should abolish the limits on taxi permits via executive order now-the fact that she will not back down on hhuman right to labor fees is a disgrace-houstonians deserve to have a choice to hire transportation with out the middleman fees-coh mayor parker -inspect the vehicle-background check the drivers -get verification of their commercial insurance and the get out of the way.end right to labor fees in Houston mayor parker”because in Houston -no person should have to pay for the right to work.2400 taxi permits in Houston -1900 owned by one man-you do the math.Joshua Ben bullard