By Kaitlin Beauregard
Uber, a new way for people to get where they’re going, has now officially launched in Durham. But some Wildcats who have used this form of transportation over the past few years are questioning what “official” actually means.
Kaitlin Durkosh, who works for Uber’s communications on the East Coast and Uber Technologies spoke to clarify questions in regards to this launching and the logistics of the company.
To clarify the question of an official launching, Durkosh discussed that Uber has a satellite in Portsmouth, and UNH students may have been able to connect with drivers located there.
“Uber operates in nearby Portsmouth, and it’s possible that students may have been able to get a ride from a driver-partner available to provide rides in that area,” Durkosh said.
With Uber rapidly growing around New Hampshire, the East Coast Uber team was excited to add a new location where students and residents could safely get to classes, home or any other destination.
“We find that students really like using Uber to move around town, given (that) it’s a safe and affordable option,” Durkosh said. “With the university located in Durham, it seemed like a natural fit for expansion.”
This new company, which is a mere six years old, has attracted thousands of cities and over 60 countries, according to the official Uber website. It also provides jobs for independently-contracted drivers, who apply through the Uber website and then receive extensive background checks.
One of the reasons Uber has become so popular may be because of its safety.
“As part of this process, drivers will undergo an extensive background check,” said Durkosh. “Our vendors run a social security trace to identify addresses associated with the driver’s name going back seven years, and then a background check to search for the name and addresses in a series of national, state and local databases.”
For UNH student Chad Livingston, there were a few reasons why he applied to be an Uber driver.
“I wanted to work with them to make a little extra money,” Livingston said. “I thought it would be a pretty easy and flexible way to do so.”
Durkosh discussed the simplicity involved with being a driver for Uber, where over 50 percent of the drivers work less than 10 hours a week.
The Uber website even claims, “Drive with Uber and earn great money as an independent contractor. Get paid weekly just for helping our community of riders get rides around town. Be your own boss and get paid in fares for driving on your own schedule.”
Although the flexibility may be appealing to Livingston, he also appreciates how it can help fellow Wildcats.
“I think Uber just makes living on a college campus more convenient,” said Livingston. “Especially for freshman since they are not allowed to have cars in the area. It also provides a great service on the weekend for kids who are incapable of driving home from a party.
Although Durkosh had no comment on other driving companies around town, like Safe Rides, with Uber’s official launch in Durham on Oct. 8, she and the East Coast team hope to make transportation on and off campus much easier for students.