Uber has come a long way from its humble roots in the San Francisco Bay area and has arrived in Beaufort County.
Founded in 2009, the transportation network company quickly caught on as a reliable, fun and newfangled way to get around a city. Now, with operations in 67 countries and more than 300 cities around the globe, Uber has become a force projected to displace, and possibly replace, the entire taxi market as it continues to grow.
Michael Sanz, retired educator and a driver for the newly launched Savannah and Beaufort Country Uber branch, credits much of their success to the company’s reliability and technological advances.
Marketed as a transportation network company (TNC), Uber takes taxi and rideshare services digital. After signing up through the app, available for iPhone and android, or by using the specially designed mobile website (m.uber.com), customers can “pin” their location for Uber drivers in the area.
A driver is then selected and their route is tracked through the app, giving the customer an exact arrival time for their convenience.
“It’s easy and dependable to pick and track a driver,” Sanz said. “First-time customers may start off nervous or overwhelmed by the idea, but after their ride, they’re hooked.”
And it’s hard not to be.
The entire process is streamlined. Customers can easily track drivers, rate drivers and pay for services through the phone screen. Users say it is a clever and fun alternative to the standard taxi experience.
It’s not just the customers who have it streamlined, however. Sanz describes the employee experience as efficient, reliable and surprisingly independent.
“I’ve never worked for a company where I never spoke to an actual human being,” Sanz said, explaining how communication is done digitally. Drivers make their own schedules, working as much or as little as they wish, use their own vehicles and are paid through their Uber accounts.
Uber continues to cement itself as a presence built not only to stay, but to grow. The passing of the Transportation Network Company act, a piece of South Carolinian legislation that shifted the regulations of Uber from individual cities to the state, provided the company with a stable and cohesive way to manage its business and further its expansion.
Uber recently secured a contract with the Savannah-Hilton Head Airport Commission, providing jurisdiction for Uber drivers to operate in the airport. The contract also provides for the construction of a number of specifically labeled Uber parking spots.
With the company now valued at $50 billion dollars by the Wall Street Journal, thousands of drivers added to the company monthly, and the new laws set in place, Uber’s journey shows no sign of stopping.
Sam Posthuma is a freelance writer and production assistant for The Hilton Head Sun.