Local Cabbie Braces for Uber Ride Share Competition

By: David Norris Email
By: David Norris Email
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas It's called Uber, and it's sweeping the Nation. But not everyone is so excited about the ride share program.

Uber launched in 22 college towns on Thursday, including Bryan, College Station. That brings the total number of cities Uber has reached to 100.

It's an app for your smart phone that connects riders with drivers. Uber hires people in the area. After a background check and some training, they become Uber drivers.

"We work with all sorts of people. People who are looking to supplement their income, graduate students looking to save a little money and help pay for school, it really varies," said Pooneet Kant, Uber General Manager for Regional Expansion.

Uber officials said a driver must have a miid-size or full-size 4-door vehicle, in excellent condition.

You can download the app in advance. The next time you need a ride, the app can track your location as well as any nearby drivers. Uber officials said once they've developed a good base of drivers in the Bryan, College Station area, riders should have a driver to their location in less than five minutes.

Ken Henson, owner of Ken's Taxi in Bryan, has a fleet of two taxis and works out of his home. He's what you might call the David to the Uber Goliath. But Henson said he doesn't mind the competition.

"David wasn't afraid, and I'm not afraid either," said Henson.

Henson said he's not so sure about the under five minute pickup promise.

"Five minutes, they've got to be kidding," said Henson. "They couldn't get anywhere in this town in five minutes on game day, I'll tell you that."

Henson said while he can't compete with Uber's rates and pickup times, he has something the other guys don't.

"That's a service with a reasonable rate. And the confidence that when I say I'm going to be there, I'm going to be there," said Henson.

But with a growing track record across the Nation, Uber just may be here to stay.

In both Bryan and College Station, drivers must be permitted and their vehicles inspected before they can give rides.

Uber said they look forward to working with city leaders to discuss what they call "stark differences" between them and the traditional taxi industry.

Uber is offering riders five free rides from Thursday through Monday.

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