by Jacob Kaplan
The number of people using Uber, an app-based transportation service, has exploded in recent years. From busy cities to quiet suburbs, this new way to get around has grown tremendously—but why?
Uber is now worth almost $40 billion; the company is growing at a faster rate than Facebook and doesn’t seem to be slowing down, according to businessinsider.com. In the Westfield community, the number of Uber riders has risen. An anonymous Hi’s Eye survey of 100 WHS students revealed that 77 percent of students use the Uber app regularly.
“Using Uber is easier than hailing down a taxi in the busy streets of New York,” said junior Matt Kaufman. Other students indicated on the survey that Uber is easy to use when their parents are asleep or away from home.
But it is not only students who are involved: Chemistry Teacher Ms. Suzanne Glynn, who has used Uber, said, “When you’re out with some friends, it’s a cheap and easy way to get everyone back home safely.”
In the same Hi’s Eye survey, many students said that they used Uber after drinking alcohol. An anonymous junior girl said, “I like to use the app whenever I come home from parties on the weekends.”
Uber seems to make a meaningful impact on DUI cases in cities where the company operates freely. According to uber.com, the number of DUI arrests in Seattle has decreased about 10 percent.
“Now when people go out and drink, they naturally assume that they are going to take an Uber home.” - Union County Patrolman Mr. Robert Riley
Westfield has seen the benefits, too: “It absolutely has reduced drinking-and-driving car accidents,” said Union County Patrolman Mr. Robert Riley. “Now when people go out and drink, they naturally assume that they are going to take an Uber home.”
Uber has also changed the economy on a small scale by generating thousands of jobs for drivers. Mr. Nick Morley, a WHS parent, became a driver after he retired from the Westfield fire department. Morley said: “I wanted to make some extra cash because I am retired now. I get to make my own hours and make a decent amount of money.”
The app promises safety to its riders, according to uber.com. About 96 percent of WHS students said that they feel safe when riding in an Uber car, according to the Hi’s Eye survey.
Uber drivers must undergo background checks and have a clean, safe vehicle and driving experience, according to its website. Morley added: “Uber is a safe option for people of any age…. They check your record and make sure you are the right person to drive people around.”
Morley, like many other drivers, enjoys driving with Uber and being his own boss, but he also knows that there are negative aspects, such as the awkwardness of driving with strangers or the possibility of driving someone who is heavily intoxicated. But often, no problems are encountered. “I have never had a bad ride,” said Morley.
Uber seems to have a positive influence on both drivers and riders. Travis Kalanick, CEO and co-founder of Uber, was astonished by how quickly the company has grown in recent years. Kalanick said in an interview with CNBC, “You could have never predicted where we are now and I don’t know if I could predict where we are going.”
Uber has made a significant impact on an industry that had no competition in the past, Kalanick told CNBC, and now only competes with a handful of other rideshare services like Lyft.
Kalanick also explained in the interview how Uber can solve societal problems: “We’re gonna create 20,000 jobs, we’re gonna take hundreds of thousands of cars off the road which is going to make pollution in the air much better.”
One can only imagine how business for the company will continue to thrive in an increasingly transportation-dependent (and technology-savvy) society.