Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Rideshare service uberX launched today in South Carolina, offering their transportation in the four major urban areas of the state.
Covering Columbia, as well as Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Greenville, uber's ridesharing service is offered as an alternative to traditional taxicabs, using privately owned vehicles operated by private individuals the company puts through a screening process prior to launching their partnership.
Drivers who sign on to the service use their own cars and receive 80 percent of the passenger fare, which can be cheaper than a traditional taxi.
The service relies upon an app for Android and iPhone, and allows users to see what vehicles are available in their area, request a quote for the ride to their destination, and place a reservation. When users register with uber, a credit card or PayPal account is required.
If an uber car isn't currently available, simply refresh the app and it updates when cars become free. The uber cars are limited to four passengers, sometimes hybrids, but generally do not offer vehicles equipped for disabled passengers.
Originating in San Francisco, Uber's app-based car service, along with competitors Lyft and Sidecar, have drawn strong criticism from taxi and limousine services in many locations they offer their service. Recently, Taxi drivers in many European cities staged a protest in opposition of the ridesharing services. In addition, some uber launched in, wound up troublesome for uber in regard to transportation regulations.
South Carolina's regulatory staff is currently considering how to observe the new app-based ridesharing service, whether it differs from a regular taxi service, or how the regulatory structure can accommodate the new service offered by uber and its' competitors.
Uber says they conduct a rigorous screening process of their driver partners, including a background and driving history check, along with regular quality control screenings. All drivers are independent contractors who partner with uber to provide the service.
In addition, uber invites all their users to rate the drivers after each ride.
As a part of uber's introduction to South Carolina, they're offering everyone their first 5 rides free (up to $25 each ride) through July 24th.
State law currently requires certification of transportation services offered to consumers, requiring specific insurance levels for drivers. State regulators said recently they are going to seek the best way to not only regulate the new service, but present the best opportunity to uber and competitors to succeed in South Carolina.
The uber service carries their own ridesharing insurance policy, applied to the entire company's service, that they say is in excess of the individual drivers' own insurance policies.
We will keep a close eye on the regulatory aspect of this new service, and how South Carolina addresses oversight of the new ridesharing services coming to our state.