Uber starts service in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids

Posted at 7:48 PM, Jul 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-24 20:00:35-04

WEST MICHIGAN, Mich. --  Uber started service Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo today.

It's a company that provides a taxi-like service through an app on your
smart phone. Riders sign up with a credit card, and then they can request a driver come pick them up.

The rates vary.

The company isn't free from controversy. Issues with insurance/accident lawsuits, and conflicts with local government when it comes to regulation have come up.

When it comes to notifying a city of Uber's plans to start service there, Pooneet Kant, the general manager for Uber's Regional Expansion said its case by case whether Uber gives the city notice.

"We seek to work with cities in all the markets we're in. We don't want, we don't ever intend to not work with a city in a market that we're in," Kant said.

He added, "The exact timing of when we start that conversation is sort of irrelevant. We're gonna work with all our cities and all the cities that we're launched in."

Sarah Freeman said she's used the service in Nashville and Chicago. She lives in Grand Rapids. The Grandville native said she's more than familiar with Uber.

Now she's been hired as a driver in Grand Rapids.

"I just activated today, so really excited," she said.

Freeman explained, "They run a background check, pretty extensive actually. They run your driver's license, your record, insurance, if there's any red flags what soever,you will not be registered or allowed to drive."

She added, "I did a lot of research. Honestly, the best thing you can do is put your own mind at ease. If there's ever a time that you don't feel comfortable. You're not on a time schedule where you have to work 8 to 5 and be constantly driving."

Driver's can rate the riders.

"So if you see a rider that maybe has had some not so good reviews and has given drivers some hassles in the past, you don't have to agree to pick up that rider," Freeman explained.

"So you kind of use your judgement there and pick up in areas you feel safe. But I will always have concerns," she added.