Starting Jan. 16 the ride sharing platform Uber will be available for use by Boone residents.
“We’re excited to bring safe, reliable transportation options and flexible work opportunities to Boone, North Carolina,” said Michael Black, general manager for Uber in North Carolina. “Uber is committed to working with the Boone community to help make the city more accessible and better connected with access to a ride in minutes at the touch of button.”
Boone currently has a more informal ride sharing service, called beeping, that connects riders and drivers through a Facebook group and costs between $2 to $4 on an individual basis.
Beeping has less stringent safety standards. The only requirement to be a driver is membership in the Facebook group, which is private and requires approval to join.
Last September, a beeper driver named Samuel Wayne Grubbs was charged with sexual battery after a ride.
Uber said on their website that their safety protections include being able to see information about their drivers, GPS tracking for the entire ride and providing feedback on riders and drivers though the app.
Carrie Gold, moderator of the beeper group, said that while she feels Uber is generally safer and more reliable, she will be keeping the group active due to popular demand.
A poll on the beeper page had 207 respondents indicate they would forego using Uber for beeping and 51 indicating they will likely use both, while 13 respondents indicated a strong preference for Uber. The Facebook page has 16,902 members.
Gold said she feels that much of the support for the beeper group is coming largely from a vocal minority, mainly drivers, that want to keep the service alive because of its uniqueness to Boone.
“Boone is sort of like a progressive place where people want to keep things local, you don’t want the capitalist corporate overlords coming into little Boone and taking over it.”
Gold said she was already looking to find a replacement moderator for the group but feels that interest in beeping will die down as newer students will likely gravitate toward Uber.
Uber will be offering a promotional code for first time users, giving them their first ride free if they enter the promo code BOONE at checkout.
Story by: Sammy Hanf, News Editor