Have you ever eagerly awaited the arrival of a new product coming to town? You may have speculated what spurred the timing. The response from Uber Technologies, Inc. about the mid-September debut of its private car and driver service was: “Why not Flagstaff and why not now?”
The answer is the firm’s sophisticated location-based mobile technology platform, which offers a single point of contact, payment by credit card or smartphone, both higher end and less expensive vehicles, local drivers and shared rides with split fares to respective accounts. Vehicle choices are everyday cars, taxis, black sedans, six-passenger SUVs and luxury cars.
“Every time someone in Flagstaff opened the Uber app and tried to request cross-town transportation via a private car and driver, the company tracked and noted the interest,” said Steve Thompson, Uber’s general manager for Arizona. “The big thing is we listen to our riders. We listen to our partners… You [the public] wanted Uber and that’s why we are bringing it to you… We have seen thousands of riders and hundreds of drivers wanting Uber in Flagstaff. We are excited to be able to launch.”
That official launch occurred Sept. 18 with a “pub crawl” event, free rides and special beverage offers at The Lumberyard, Collin’s Irish Pub, The Green Room and The McMillan. Sample fares post-rollout are $5 from Northern Arizona University (NAU) to Heritage Square, $12 from Heritage Square to Pulliam Airport, and $19 from NAU to Arizona Snowbowl.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Uber also provides transportation in Tempe, Phoenix and Tucson, along with more than 200 other cities around the globe. Enlisting a “local approach,” the firm has hired native Arizonans or longer-term residents to staff its Arizona team, Thompson said. A “rigorous” background check and a “19-point vehicle inspection” are required for accepted drivers.
Sedona and Prescott are on the firm’s radar screen for potential future launches, he noted, with the tourism trade and proximity to the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River making Flagstaff and those areas particularly attractive.
“Where people are opening the app,” Thompson said, “Where they are wanting rides and asking to be drivers…that’s what’s driving those business decisions.” FBN
For more information, log on to www.uber.com.
By Sue Marceau
Flagstaff Business News