The Roundup -

Uber Comes To Sidney


January 23, 2019 | View PDF

Mike Nelson enjoys driving for Uber. (Photo by Jaymi Loobey)

Uber is a multinational support service that began as a small rideshare company in San Francisco, California in March of 2009. It currently offers ridesharing for individuals or businesses, food delivery, electric bike, and scooter rentals as well as trucking. They offer these services in hundreds of cities in the USA, Central America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, East Asia, South Asia and India, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

People who want to make a little extra money sign up with Uber. They have to pass a background check and own a qualified vehicle that they can legally drive. Then they are set up for 12 potential hours each day, whenever they want to earn extra money. They get an app that they sign in and off on which alerts them to ride requests, and helps them on the way to, during and after each ride. They can sign in or out to work whenever they want, are provided with insurance while they are logged in and are paid for each trip they accept. After the trip, drivers are able to rate their riders to ensure future driver safety.

People wishing to request a ride must do so on the Uber app or website. They are shown a map of their requested trip, a quote for if they use an uberX or uberXL vehicle, the card they have their account set to use, and the time they would be picked up if there are any drivers available. If there are no drivers available it will say so there as well. When the ride is requested, the card is charged right away and if there are no drivers available the money is refunded just as fast. According to their website, Uber is set up to be a cashless system. Currently, Colorado Springs, Colorado is the only city where a rider can use cash. In all other cities, a rider must use a debit or credit card, Paypal, Google or Apple Pay, Venmo, Uber card or ride pass. When a driver accepts the ride the rider is shown the driver's profile, what vehicle they are coming in and their ETA. The rider is also given the option to message the driver, however, the driver is not allowed to respond while in transit so they may not respond immediately. After the trip, the rider is given the option to rate the driver's performance, give a tip and alert Uber to any issues.

We have at least two Uber drivers in Sidney, Montana. Mike Nelson started driving for Uber January 12 of this year. He drives a blue Ford F-150 and currently runs from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights but is thinking of expanding to weekdays as well. He moved here from California in 2010 and started a graphic design business October of 2018 called Nelson Family Designs LLC. I asked him why he decided to drive for Uber and he said, "I noticed there weren't any drivers here so I jumped on it."

Kristi (Lee) Strouf also drives for Uber and drives a black Hyundai Sonata. She's a native of Sidney but moved away. February of 2018, while living in Billings, Kristi had started driving for Uber to supplement her income after her place of employment had closed down. She's been driving ever since and moved to Sidney in July of 2018. She is a notary at KLS Notary Services. Her schedule is sporadic, however, so last weekend was her first chance to drive for Uber since moving back to Sidney. Kristi said in her profile for Uber " I love meeting new people and wanted to earn some extra money to make more memories with my kiddos." She also said of the 278 trips she has made she only had a single aggressive passenger in Billings. She wants to work weeknights, especially Thursday nights, but didn't give me a definite schedule.

Both drivers love their job and feel it is an excellent opportunity for those in the community who need a ride or wish to drive to make some extra money. Uber ridesharing is the only service currently available in Sidney although Kristi said she's encouraging Uber to start offering Uber Eats as well. For more information about Uber and the services they provide, to sign up as a driver or schedule a ride go to Rides can also be scheduled through the Uber app for smartphones which can be downloaded for free from the phone's app store.


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