By ALLISON ERWIN/ Montana State News
Uber, the popular rideshare enterprise announced in December 2015 that they will be making a debut in Montana.
Uber started in 2009 and offers rides to customers via an app that can be easily downloaded on any cellular device. The program allows customers to call a ride with the ability to view the driver’s personal information, car type, and rating information.
A handful of larger cities in Montana, such as Billings and Missoula, have already adopted the rideshare company despite protests from local taxi companies.
“Frankly, businesses like Uber and Lyft will be taking my business away,” says local Gallatin Valley taxi driver Lance Roberts who has been a driver for the past ten years.
While taxi companies have been under strict restrictions, Uber has the ability to avoid regulations by using independent contractors as their drivers instead of employees.
According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, taxi and shuttle business operate under the Public Service Commission, which controls issues such as insurance and how much companies can charge for their services.
“With Uber’s low prices there’s no way taxis can stay in business, there’s simply not enough of a need,” said Roberts in regards to a low demand for transportation because of small population.
Residents in and around Bozeman have been talking about what the $50 billion company may do to the community.
“I think Uber will open doors for jobs in and around the community while also offering affordable transportation to the folks in the area,” said local resident Stewart Lewis
Despite opposition from local taxi companies and city officials, Uber says on its website that it hope to begin operations in the coming months.
One hundred cars have already been approved in Bozeman for the $20 safety inspection Uber requires, according to Bozeman Chronicle.
For those interested in becoming a driver the company regulations include: The driver’s car must be manufactured within the last decade, and the driver must be 21 or older, pass a background check and have a Montana drivers license and personal insurance as well as an up-to date registrations, according to Uber website.
Once Uber is officially available, Bozeman residents will be able to summon a ride via electronic devices to any destination in the valley.
– Edited by Jenny Bryan