9:22 am
Wed July 9, 2014

A New Ride Sharing Service Drives into Winston-Salem

An international ride-sharing service is moving into the Piedmont Triad.

San Francisco based Uber is bring a new ride-sharing service to the Triad. An app helps people find a 'ride' in their vicinity. The cost is sometimes less than a taxi fare.

It works through an app—making it convenient. But many cab companies frown on the service, which is sparking controversies in almost every city where it operates. UberX is both a ride sharing service and an alternative to taxis and private transportation services. The California-based company services several states and is overseas. Recently it has expanded into multiple North Carolina cities, including; the Piedmont Triad, Durham, Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, and Wilmington.

Rod Ring is the traffic operations manager for the City of Winston-Salem. He’s skeptical about this new ride share service. He doesn’t like that it is able to operate without getting the same permits as other transportation services in the city. Ring also would have preferred if the company had approached him before launching its services in the Triad. “No, I don’t think that they’ve asked,” he says. “And I think they should. I think they probably will be required to. Nobody’s approached us and asked anything, so they’ve launched and done whatever they are going to do without any approval from the city of Winston-Salem.”

Riders download the free UberX app, put in their credit card information and use GPS to find the closest driver. They’ll also get a picture of their driver, and the make, model, and license plate number of the car coming to get them.

Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett says this ride sharing service is no threat to taxi companies. “We’re not looking to replace taxis,” he says. “We’re not looking to take over the industry. We’re looking to supplement it. So you know another form of transportation, a new, reliable alternative in Winston-Salem is good for the people. It’s creating a safer option for getting around town.” According to Bennett, their drivers are independent contractors and must pass extensive background checks. They use their own cars and collect 80 percent of each fare. The company gets the other 20 percent.

UberX rates are very comparable to local taxi companies. For example, the company charges about ten dollars to drive from Wake Forest University to downtown Winston-Salem. That is roughly the same price charged by most area taxi services.