New app 'Uber' worries competition

Source: Uber Manager James Ondrey
Source: Uber Manager James Ondrey

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Your smartphone does a lot of things. Now, it can even get you a ride around Cincinnati thanks a new service called "Uber."

"You fire up our app and push a button, and within five minutes you're going to get connected to that driver who's going to come pick you up," said James Ondrey, Uber's Ohio General Manager.

A few clicks online to sign up at Uber's website, then installing their app on your phone and you're a click away from a ride.

There are two ways to ride in Cincinnati: UberBLACK and uberX.

UberBLACK uses licensed limousine companies, and uberX uses every day drivers and their cars.

"UberX is often what people are asking more about because it's not that sort of commercial limo company. It's more of folks sort of driving their own cars on Uber and making money," said Ondrey.

UberX drivers aren't licensed by the city like taxi drivers.

"UberX with ridesharing is a completely new model for transportation that old existing, taxi regulations don't really account for," Ondrey tells FOX19.  However, uberX drivers will pay taxes on fares to the state when they receive a 1099 form at the end of the year.

"What we're doing here isn't anything new. I think it's only going to be a positive for the city. If something arises that we need to iron out in the city code, we'll happily do that. But, I think we're in good standing," said P.G. Sittenfeld, Cincinnati city council member.

"I am grateful to our existing cab companies, but at the same time I think competition is a healthy thing," he adds.

But, the fact that uberX drivers aren't regulated like taxi drivers is a problem for one area taxi company.

"It's going to hurt the city. We pay a lot of taxes for the city and my concern - I'm just going to lose my business," said Mohamed Abdallahi, owner of A-Taxi, Inc.

For Abdallahi, rider safety is also a concern.

"If you get picked up by cab number 110, there's only one number 110 in the city of Cincinnati.  The city knows who's driving that cab. The owner of the company knows who's driving that cab. That means you're safe," said Abdallahi.

But, Uber officials say safety is a priority. UberX drivers carry insurance, and there's an in-person interview, along with a check of their vehicle.

"What we do for that is a pretty stringent background check process, multi state, federal, county database. We look at their driving record and history," Ondrey told FOX19.

There is base pricing for each Uber option, plus a minimum charge. They also use dynamic pricing, meaning during a peak time you may pay more as demand for rides outweighs supply.

In addition, Ondrey sent FOX19 this statement saying, "Ridesharing is a fast-evolving and thriving area of transportation, which consumers have embraced wholeheartedly. Multiple cities and states across the nation have embraced ridesharing as well. There are many benefits to ridesharing, including the rapid creation of jobs for folks who are looking to make a living or supplement their income, it cuts down on impaired driving, reduces traffic and parking congestion, and it's an affordable and reliable means of moving people around a City."

Uber services are available in nearly 80 cities.

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