Limited taxi services and high incidence of accidents from drunk driving at night lead many teenagers to avoid travelling throughout the city later in the night — until new online transportation system Uber came to town.
Uber, founded in San Francisco, was developed to have its consumers request rides from personal drivers through the use of their smartphone app. Payment is made through the app — which includes built-in fare splitting if a customer prefers to carpool — with a credit or debit card.
For teenagers without a license, having an available driver practically at their fingertips is an inexpensive and accessible way to get from one place to another.
“I use Uber for emergency events like when I need to get somewhere important but don’t have a ride,” senior Dalondro Frazier said. “Once or twice I would use Uber to get to parties.”
Uber’s rising popularity is not only among teenagers, but families as well. Unlike taxi services where their location cannot be specifically tracked, Uber provides the ability to track its drivers; a notification via text is sent to the Uber account when a request is made. The account holder is then able to track the entire trip.
“I used Uber over the summer whenever the BART system was down,” senior Jennifer Gonzalez said. “It’s convenient; the drivers arrive within two minutes of your request.”
Others use Uber as their safer alternative instead of driving after parties.
“My mom’s friends use Uber when they go out to drink at night,” senior Gabriella Gomez said. “It’s a safer alternative than driving home drunk.”
While many residents of larger cities such Los Angeles or San Francisco use Uber almost on a regular basis, smaller cities have yet to reach the transportation network’s full potential. Despite being released in Stockton since 2014, many people still have yet to discover and use this app.
In Stockton, there’s a base fee of $3.33 plus 24 cents per minute with $2.38 per mile and a $1 Safe Rides Fee. In a smaller city such as Stockton where traffic can be sparse, the cost for an Uber is almost 10 percent cheaper than using the average taxi service, according to Business Insider.
In spite of Uber’s cheaper fares, safe tracking system and protected payment services, users still need to take precaution when signing up.
Unlike most taxi services in Stockton, Uber does not require its drivers to submit a fingerprint scan for any offenses or incidents for its background check. Instead of using fingerprint-scanning service Live Scan, Uber insteads uses the services called Accurate and Checkr to check their drivers for vehicle and credit reports and driving violations.
Although Uber is popular with young adults and teenagers, minors under 18 are prohibited from opening accounts and are not permitted to use the service without their parent’s permission.
To register for an account, users must be at least 18 years of age with one valid payment method either by a credit card or an accepted payment partner. Ultimately though, it is up to the Uber driver to request ID verification; the responsibility of the transporter is placed on the account holder.
While there are only approximately 30 Uber drivers available around the Stockton area, Uber expects to add more drivers over the next couple of years, a potential game changer in the transportation system in Stockton.