Students choose Uber over local cab companies

Lulu Stratcher, Staff Writer

Uber, and other on-demand car services, are steadily replacing taxis in Westport and across the country because of their efficiency, safety and cost.

“I use Uber usually when I’m with my friends, going from house to house if it’s a big group,” Ben Casparius ’17, a frequent Uber user, said.

Although there are multiple taxi companies in the Westport area, such as Westport Star Taxi and Saugatuck Taxi, Casparius says he prefers Uber because “it’s safer and more organized than Westport Taxi.”

Uber was founded as UberCab by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick in 2009. Uber can provide users with a ride to practically anywhere with a few taps on a smart phone.

The service sends the nearest registered driver to the user’s location and charges the ride directly to the credit card linked to the account. The app also provides the cost of the cab in advance, so riders know exactly how much they will have to pay, and can avoid riding if the fares are high.

Uber has often proven popular across generations. In a post on his 06880 blog, Westport resident Dan Woog praised Uber as a safe option for adults.  “[A]fter a night at a party, restaurant or bar, none of us may be in condition to drive,”  he wrote. “Local taxis have sketchy reputations. And not many parents will call their kids for a ride. Enter Uber.”

Like Woog, students appreciate Uber for its simplicity. “[Uber] is easier than Westport Taxi because it’s prepaid, so I don’t have to worry if I don’t have cash on me,” Julia Kaplowitz ‘16 said. Uber also allows riders to view the progress of their cab on their phone, and provides a constantly updated estimated time of arrival.

Uber also takes measures to guarantee the safety of riders. While a fleet cab driver needs only a valid driver’s license to operate, Uber drivers own their own cars and must have insurance. According to Uber’s website, every driver is thoroughly reviewed  through a three-step, criminal-background screening.

Uber has its proponents, but many students are still loyal to traditional services, like Westport Star Taxi. “I use [Westport Star Taxi] during the weekends with friends when we have no other ride. We always call Taj [a cab driver],” Brynly Marsh ‘17 stated. “It’s always a good time with Taj.”

With Uber on the rise, it is unclear whether Westport Star Taxi and Saugatuck Taxi will be able to match the efficiency and independence that Staples students appreciate.