(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) In August, Uber and Lyft services became available in St. Joseph and surrounding areas. All people have to do to use the driving service is download the Uber app on their phone.
However, one Uber driver said the service isn't being used as much as he thought.
"The community as a whole doesn't know about it. Most of the people that we get are out-of-towners, people staying at hotels and the young crowd that travels for a living," Michael Shelton, Uber driver, said.
One St. Joe citizen said she has heard about the service in town through a friend, but has yet to use it.
"I might use it at some point if I ever need to go out and I'm unable to use my car," Raina Fritzler said.
Shelton has been with Uber for two months, driving in St. Joe and Kansas City. Since he started, Shelton said he has packed a total of 500 rides, or 10 to 20 rides per day.
The majority of people Shelton sees using the Uber service are young adults. The busiest time being Friday and Saturday nights.
"I thought there would be more people in town like maybe the elderly needing to go to a doctor's appointment or some avenue like that where I thought more people would use it," Shelton said.
If someone is concerned over the safety of using an Uber, Shelton said all drivers must first pass a background check.
"To be able to drive for Uber they make sure we carry our insurance and all that, and when we're on the Uber platform we are insured through Uber," Shelton said.
Uber differs from a traditional cab ride because drivers will be made available as soon as they accept your ride in the app.
“We are basically 15 minutes or less anywhere in St. Joseph from your pick-up," Shelton said.
If drivers are in high demand, people have the option to choose surge pricing meaning they can pay a higher rate for a quicker ride.
Uber and Lyft will also make their services available to those who live in remote areas. Shelton said in rural areas the app may say there is not a driver available, but if you know a driver you can contact them and they will head to your pick-up location.
"We want the rural people to be using it," Shelton said. "If they want to go out for a night on the town and don't want to drive or worry about parking in Kansas City, we're more than happy to take them wherever they want to go."
Shelton said the rate is the same for passengers in rural areas, as it is for those in town.
While the app is still fairly new to the area, Shelton said he hopes to see more people taking advantage of the opportunity.
"I really enjoy driving. I meet new people," Shelton said. "I enjoy talking to people about, you know, a lot of times we talk about their problems or whatever, and it does people good to talk about things like that."
There are currently about 6 drivers in St. Joseph. Shelton said only he and one other driver are considered XL, or can fit more than four people.
Shelton said for those in need of a ride to use the Uber app on your phone, or contact him at 816-205-5778.
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