Uber in Youngstown: Dos and Don’ts for first-time users

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BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) — Uber is up and running in the Mahoning Valley.

The ride-hailing service that allows smartphone users to get a ride started operating in the Youngstown area beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday. Previously, the Valley was the most-populous region in the country that had never had Uber service.

Drivers think Uber picked a good day to start in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties.

“Surprisingly enough, in some areas, Thursday night is the busiest night,” said Tim Gregory II, an Uber driver from Cortland.

Gregory and another driver, both from the Mahoning Valley, have experienced driving for Uber in Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Kent. They said there are some common mistakes first-time users make:

  • Don’t bring your pets on-board. “Most Uber drivers will not allow pets in their cars,” Gregory said, noting that a majority of Uber drivers are using their personal vehicles for the job.
  • Don’t keep your Uber driver waiting. “We give an estimated time that we’ll arrive, usually in about 5 or 10 minutes,” he said. “You’ll get a notification when we arrive but if you don’t show up after 5 minutes or if you cancel, you will get charged the minimum for that ride.”
  • Don’t toss up your lunch. Uber charges a $200 fee to users who vomit in a vehicle. The company then uses that money to reimburse drivers who have to get their car detailed after someone gets sick inside.
  • Don’t bring more than four people into the car. UberX, the service available in the Valley, only guarantees cars will have five total seats, including the driver. It is against the law to carry more people than seat belts in a car.

The drivers said it’s not all about the don’ts. There are other tips they want passengers to know:

  • Do ask your Uber driver questions. “It’s okay to sit in the front,” said Santana Crespo, of Boardman. “Never a problem sitting in the front if you want to have some conversation.”
  • Do leave a rating and feedback at the end of the ride. “Say they give me a bad rating. They’ll explain why, and that gives me an opportunity to improve,” Gregory said. Uber can remove low-rated drivers from operating with the company.
  • Do feel free to head anywhere. Both drivers noted that hour-plus trips aren’t uncommon, but be prepared to pay. Uber estimates that a trip from Boardman to Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport could cost anywhere from $70 to $95.
  • Do be prepared to pay extra when the service is busy. Uber uses a system called “surge pricing” when the number of passengers outnumbers available drivers. The app warns users if the price is going up, but be ready for a higher fare than usual on weekend evenings and holidays.

Uber Rates in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties:

  • Base Fare: $1.00
  • Booking Fee: $1.85
  • Minimum Fare: $5.70
  • Cancellation Fee: $5.00
  • Cost Per Mile: $0.77
  • Cost Per Minute: $0.12

Sample Trips and Uber-Estimated Cost

  • Airport to Courthouse Square: $11-15
  • Youngstown State University to Eastwood Mall: $14-18
  • Covelli Centre to Canfield Fairgrounds: $15-20
  • Howland Township Park to Hollywood Gaming: $17-23
  • Downtown Youngstown to Downtown Salem: $17-23
  • Southern Park Mall to Pittsburgh International Airport: $45-60

Other taxi services in the region say they’re ready for the competition from Uber, which operates in cities around the globe and has been valued at more than $60 billion.

“I’m not threatened by them at all,” said April Martin, owner of Fab Cab. “I think our reputation speaks for itself.”

Martin says current cab companies already have a strong client base and provide good customer service.

“Just give us a call,” said Martin. “And good luck to Uber, I guess.”

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