As a Rio Grande Valley citizen, I don’t mind pointing out some harsh truths about our lovely South Texas region. The RGV tends to jump into trends much later than we’d like. It’s a fact of life. Born and raised in the area, the Valley’s trend-tardiness is something I came to peace with long ago. But, when we finally do get those gems of modern culture we’ve seen everyone rave about on social media, there’s always the feeling of excitement and success.
Well, we’re jumping on a new bandwagon soon. The RGV is adopting the latest trend in carpooling, taxiing, designated driving or whatever else you want to call it. Uber, the taxi-like company only accessible through a smartphone app, posted a job listing for drivers in McAllen and Brownsville back in April. Having used this service in the past, I can’t express how happy I am about this – but I’ll try.
The Uber Basics
For people looking to use Uber’s service, you simply download the app, create an account, connect a payment method and request rides wherever and whenever. Uber drivers are independent contractors who can set up their own hours; about a fifth of their profit goes to Uber. The drivers use their own Uber-approved vehicles.
Don’t worry, Uber conducts background checks on each driver and there are always reviews available to browse. No exchange is ever made between a customer and a driver as all transactions are conducted through the app. Neat, huh?
The rideshare-type company offers cheaper rates than regular taxi companies. For an area where taxi cabs are few and far between, Uber also offers easy-access transportation for RGV consumers. Whether you want to carpool to save money and the environment, or need a ride home after drinking, Uber is simply an awesome alternative to driving or paying for a pricy cab.
My first experience with Uber was in the downtown San Antonio area. It was late at night and my boyfriend and I required transportation from the bus station to the Amtrak station (we were riding on a train for the first time, too). My boss told me about Uber before our trip, so I had the app downloaded already. I made a profile as soon as we arrived at the bus station and had an Uber driver within five minutes.
Our driver was all smiles and ready to take our suitcases. He had a clean sedan complete with phone chargers, gum and other traveling essentials. I remember my boyfriend looking over to me as we jumped in the backseat. He had a look of “color me impressed”. We were so fascinated by the idea of Uber that we asked our driver countless questions, which he was totally open about.
He was one of the few full-time Uber drivers covering the late-night hours in a busy city. At the end of our ride, we simply got our bags and said our goodbyes. Our $20 credit for being new Uber users covered the small cost of the ride, an added bonus.
Uber in the RGV
The taxi industry is almost nonexistent in the RGV and many fear Uber might monopolize the current market with its low rates and convenience. City officials are currently dealing with regulations and possibly applying them to the rideshare company. Still, I think the benefits of having a service like this far outweigh the costs. Just imagine the possible reduction in drunk driving-related accidents alone. I, for one, am truly looking forward to seeing Uber make its way to the RGV.