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Ride-booking company Uber is testing the waters in Wilmington

By Wayne Faulkner, Star-News, Wilmington, N.C.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

May 27--Ride-booking company Uber is testing the waters in Wilmington, advertising for drivers on Facebook and radio.

An advertisement on Facebook Tuesday read, "Earn up to $45K/year driving in Wilmington with UberX! Apply now and start making some serious cash! Make major moolah."

Despite the local ads, the San Francisco-based company would not confirm Tuesday that it is considering expanding to the Port City. But it indicated that it is always looking at demand across multiple markets.

"Ride-sharing creates jobs, drives the local economy and is a safe and reliable transportation alternative -- we often test ads to measure the viability of UberX in different markets," the company said in an email. "We are excited about the potential opportunity to connect riders and drivers in the Wilmington area."

The company describes UberX as the low-cost version of Uber.

Uber uses mobile app software to connect passengers with drivers.

In some markets, it is seen as a challenge to traditional taxi service.

Rather than using a stationary address, Uber uses a smart phone's GPS to detect a rider's location and connects them with the nearest available driver, according to its website.

When it finds a driver the passenger will be texted.

"Your driver's name and car details appear in the app, and you can message or call if you need to," according to the website.

You also can view rates in the app and get a fare quote. The fare is deducted from your on-file credit card online.

According to Uber's website, drivers must be at least 23 with a personal license and personal auto insurance.

The vehicle can be any mid- or full-size, four-door vehicle that's in excellent condition.

Drivers apply online, and the company says it does extensive background checks.

The rider has the ability to rate the driver from one star through five stars and include any notes.

Drivers also can rate riders, the company said.

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The average annual pay for a cab driver is $26,730, according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But Uber claims its drivers make much more than that.

In fact the median income on UberX is more than $90,000 a year per driver in New York and $74,000 in San Francisco, the company said in a news release Tuesday.

It also said it is generating 20,000 new driver jobs every month.

Uber already serves Raleigh and Charlotte in North Carolina. In Raleigh the base fare is $1.95 with 20 cents charged per minute and $1.50 per mile, according to the Uber Raleigh website. The cancellation fee is $4.

Wayne Faulkner: 343-2329

On Twitter: @bizniznews

___

(c)2014 the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.)

Visit the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) at www.starnewsonline.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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