One week in, and Uber is cruising in Central PA.
Uber, the personal ride-sharing service in which people use their smart phones to request a driver, opened last Friday in York and Lancaster counties. In the past week, it has not only seen a rise in sign-ups for riders, but new drivers as well.
“We have hundreds of new riders sign up and hundreds of new drivers signing up,” said Jon Feldman, General Manager of Uber Pennsylvania. “Some drivers are earning part-time or full-time hours at their own choice. They’re earning a living.”
Uber did not give specific numbers on how many new drivers have signed up, citing company policy.
Lancaster and York join the 150 other cities and regions Uber services across the country. Lancaster’s reach runs as far west as the county line in Columbia, east towards Strasburg, north to Lititz and south to Conestoga. York’s region meets with Harrisburg in the north, but begins in Spry and runs as far west as Dover.
“There has been overwhelming demand throughout the area. From the moment we launched, there were riders all around requesting trips,” Feldman said.
The average wait time for an Uber was over seven minutes when the service began in Harrisburg in late January. Last week, the York/Harrisburg region’s average wait time to receive a pick-up was measured at five minutes and 40 seconds, Feldman said.
“In smaller cities, there are fewer transportation alternatives. So offering Uber in smaller cities, demand can be even greater than in the bigger cities,” he added.
The increase in demand has created more supply for Uber locally. When drivers sign up, they undergo a two-week background check, says Uber driver Art Gustin, 74, of Steelton.
Gustin, a Navy veteran, retired from owning his family’s business in January and applied at Uber in Harrisburg. He added routes in York and Lancaster to his daily drive this week.
“I like to work with people,” he said. “I drive when I want to, go home when I want to, and if I want to stop driving, I’ll stop driving.”
Driving with Uber can be lucrative, he says, especially working in downtown Harrisburg on weekends.
“I can make up to $150 on a Friday or Saturday night,” Gustin says.