A smartphone-based ride-sharing service that is popular in many cities has arrived in Wichita.
The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/XYpPEe ) reports that Wichita is one of 22 U.S. cities where San Francisco-based Uber took to the streets Thursday. The service is now offered in more than 100 cities.
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Through the smartphone app, Uber connects prospective passengers with drivers who offer rides in their own vehicles. The driver and Uber split the money, with about 80 percent going to the driver and 20 percent to Uber.
Poneet Kant, regional general manager for Uber, said the number of Uber drivers serving Wichita is in the double digits and that the company is still recruiting. To ensure passenger safety, Uber conducts insurance and background checks before allowing drivers to join its network, Kant said.
New Wichita driver Teresa Renecker said Uber is a godsend for her. The 49-year-old worked as a mail carrier before suffering a neck injury, and while she is hopeful she will be transferred to a postal job she can do with her physical limitations, driving for Uber has put her back on the road in the meantime.
"You drive a lot on both of those jobs," she said.
In some cities, traditional cab companies have strenuously opposed Uber and its competitors. But so far, that hasn't happened in Wichita.
Interim City Attorney Sharon Dickgrafe said the city will be considering "whether there's a need to regulate this industry." She said the city will contact the stakeholders, including Uber and the taxi companies, as part of that consideration.
Kant said he welcomes the process.
"We're definitely looking forward to working with the city of Wichita on what might be common-sense regulations that address ride sharing," he said.
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com