Update at the bottom...
A few weeks ago, we reported on a rumor that the Uber car service is launching here in Myrtle Beach, well it's a rumor no more! The launch of Uber services along the Grand Strand (and across the state) is officially here!
Uber is not only launching in Myrtle Beach but in four South Carolina cities. Starting today at noon, Uber is here.
via the Uber Blog:
"Today at noon, uberX is hitting the streets of four South Carolina cities: Charleston, Greenville, Columbia, and Myrtle Beach. Now residents of the Palmetto State can request a ride at the touch of a button — it’s that easy! Uber will connect you with the closest available driver in town, ready to pick you up in minutes. You’ll see a photo of your drivers, the cars they are driving, and even watch them on the app as they drive toward you. There’s never been a safer, more seamless, and affordable way to move around your state.
Whether you want to soak up the sun on one of America’s best boardwalks, indulge in a King Street shopping spree, or dine out in downtown Columbia, let Uber be your ride."
"In South Carolina, our ridesharing service uberX offers Uber reliability with prices cheaper than a taxi. Our uberX driver partners have mid-range or hybrid vehicles in a variety of colors and styles, with seating for up to four passengers. To maintain the Uber standard you expect, all driver partners must undergo Uber’s rigorous screening process. In order to be an uberX partner in South Carolina, drivers must pass:
- A stringent background check
- A driving history check
- Ongoing quality controls
As always, your safety remains our highest priority. All Uber rides are backed by our industry-leading insurance policy, and you will always have the option to rate every driver to help ensure the highest quality experience."
Check out some of the sample rates Uber provided:
- GSP International Airport to Downtown Greenville: $29
- King Street to North Charleston: $15
- USC to Williams-Brice Stadium: $7
See, told ya our little birdies are spot on when it comes to rumors...
Update: July 10th, 2014. 4:30pm:
Well, the city of Myrtle Beach's response to Uber starting their service in the area didn't take long. Mark Kruea, the City of Myrtle Beach's Public Information Officer, released a statement saying:
"We've had a couple of inquiries from reporters today about Uber's claim that it is beginning service in Myrtle Beach and three other South Carolina cites. Please know that this taxi business does not have a business license to operate in the City of Myrtle Beach. Further, no certificates of convenience and necessity have been issued for any vehicles which would provide such a taxi service inside the city. In other words, Uber is not legally authorized to conduct business in the City of Myrtle Beach at this time."
Myrtle Beach isn't the only city government not pleased, Charleston and the state of South Carolina are both not keen on the ride-sharing giant setting up shop.
via The Charleston City Paper:
For their part, local and state governments have spoken up ahead Uber's launch in Charleston. The state’s Office of Regulatory Services issued an advisory for travelers, notifying them of the risks of traveling using vehicles not licensed by the state. The City of Charleston’s legal department issued a dispatch of their own, in a letter dated May 16, conceding that, “while the city is amenable to the idea of Uber Technologies, Inc. expanding into the Charleston transportation market,” the issue comes down to following the letter of the law. As of today, the city still has not heard back from Uber, says Assistant Corporation Counsel Janie Borden, adding that city lawyers would be happy to talk with the company.
“Should Uber Technologies, Inc. begin operating in the City of Charleston without complying with state and local law,” Borden said in the May 16 letter, “the City will have no other choice but to issue a cease and desist order.” As it stands now, Borden says Uber drivers need to be licensed by the city in the same way other taxi drivers do, or face a fine of $1,097 per violation and 30 days in jail.
Uber is more of a tech company than a taxi compnay. They provide a means (the app) to connect people who want a ride with those who are willing to drive them for a small fee. There are similarities to a taxi company but Uber is vastly different than "Your City Cab Co."
My take? The City of Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and the State wants their piece, and will probably pursue legal action like a lot of cities around the world have done when Uber arrives in their town -if not for monetary gain, but for national headlines.