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Uber Says it’s Now Operating in 80 Percent of Maryland

Friday, November 13, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: MDHCC HQ
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By: Anamika Roy Business Writer November 12, 2015


Uber has changed the way people travel around Baltimore and across the state, in large measure because of the company’s low-cost service uberX, which brings a small sedan to your doorstep at a fraction of the cost of its other options.

The cheaper service has helped expand Uber’s reach in Maryland to 80 percent of the state, officials said this week.

“We see growth everywhere in pretty much every ZIP code in the Beltway,” said David Burd, general manager of Uber Baltimore on Thursday.

This week marks two years since uberX has offered rides in Maryland. Starting out in downtown Baltimore, Uber has provided 8.5 million uberX trips across the state, the company says. In the past year, uberX drivers in Maryland have made $40 million, according to numbers from the ride-share service.

Uber said that one in five uberX trips in the city come from West Baltimore and surrounding neighborhoods with limited transportation options.

“It speaks to our ability to give access,” said Burd.

People use Uber for a variety of reasons, from going out on a Saturday night to running errands. In many cases, riders use Uber to get to public transportation, officials said.

But as Uber expands its reach for people looking for a ride, it also measures its success through the number of people it employs.

“It’s the economic opportunity. That flexibility to earn money on their own time is valuable,” said Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett. Uber reported that they have employed 16,000 drivers across the state.

Earlier this year, the state approved a law to regulate and tax ride-sharing services including Uber and Lyft. The regulations were well-received by Uber.

“We were excited that (the Legislature) officially brought ride-share to Maryland. We think this is a wonderful thing for riders and drivers alike,” said Burd.

However, those regulations will require a rewrite in the next session as state officials identified several gray areas in the law in July.

The law, which went into effect July 1, was supposed to regulate ride-share services as transportation network services, which were unregulated before the law was passed. It set driver licensing standards and insurance requirements for wheelchair-accessible vehicles. The law also added a 25-cent fee per trip in counties and municipalities that already regulate taxi services.

Uber is working with the Maryland Public Service Commission on ironing out details in the regulations, said Bennett.

State ethics reports showed that Uber spent more than $127,000 in lobbying efforts in the last legislative session.

While Uber drivers will now be held to certain standards, taxi companies in Maryland and across the nation have complained that Uber still is not subject to the same level of scrutiny or regulation as taxi companies. As a result, taxi operators say, ride-share services are able to keep their costs down.

In the coming years, Uber wants to be more involved in the community and become part of the “fabric of the city,” said Burd. The company is working with the Urban League to hire more drivers. Uber also wants to expand its reach in the Maryland.

“We want people to see new ways they can use Uber.”

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