Uber rides into Ames


By Matthew Rezab, [email protected]

Student Government President Dan Breitbarth became the first person to receive a ride from Uber after he pulled away with graduate student and Uber driver Charlton Campbell in downtown Ames on Aug. 4.

Shannon Mccarty

About 1:15 p.m. Tuesday it became official that the ride-sharing company Uber is available to students and residents in Ames.

To celebrate the official launch, Student Government President Dan Breitbarth took the first Uber ride in Ames with graduate student and rookie Uber driver Charlton Campbell at the wheel.

Last year, ISU Student Government passed a resolution encouraging lawmakers to open up ride-sharing restrictions across Iowa.

Breitbarth said the best thing for students is the convenience Uber offers, and not having a long wait. He also said it is another “safe opportunity to get home.” 

Ames is now the fourth metropolitan area in Iowa to join the Uber movement. Des Moines was first in September 2014, followed by Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities.

Uber is a startup ride-sharing company based out of San Francisco. Since its start in March 2009, the company has stretched across 58 countries and 300 cities.

General Manager of Uber Iowa, Mike White, said the company decided to consider Ames after it saw demand in its analytics.

“We’ve seen thousands of people in Ames open up the app — and be disappointed,” White said. 

Uber services are run through a phone app. The app allows people to use the GPS in their phones to find the nearest driver.

Uber users are then able to track the driver’s location, text and call their driver or they can put their phone away and wait for a text telling them their ride has arrived.

The app gives users price estimates. White said Uber’s services will be about 30 percent cheaper than Ames’ current taxi services.

When a high demand for rides occurs, the app follows a surge pricing algorithm based on the current demand.

“We expect there to be a lot of demand for rides from the students,” White said.

Users can pay with credit on file with Uber or a PayPal account and will receive a receipt through email after arriving at their destination. Customers can also split the fare with friends.

After the ride is over, users can rate their driver and leave feedback. A driver’s average rating is shown when app users are choosing a driver.

Those who want to be an Uber driver can apply online. Drivers who apply will go through background checks and must have a car, driver’s license and insurance. 

“It’s a really flexible way to make money and a reliable way to get rides,” White said.

Breitbarth said Uber will bring job opportunities to ISU students.  

Campbell said the difficulty in getting a ride and having to wait is what made him decide to work for Uber. 

“Getting the extra cash will help,” Campbell said.