Uber has been launched in Troy since the beginning of fall 2018. It comes as a convenient alternative for students who are tired of hassling their friends for a ride to the grocery store or of staring at the TransLoc app on their phones while waiting for the university shuttle.
The Alabama Legislature passed a legislation in July that legalized operation of ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber across the state. Given the lack of accessible public transportation in the city of Troy, Uber is expected to provide some relief to students who don’t have their own private means of transportation.
For Rome Fiore, a senior business major from Hoover and an Uber driver, the idea of bringing Uber to Troy came after he spent a summer in Brazil using the ride-hailing app on a daily basis.
“Using Uber almost every day made me think how great Troy would be if we had Uber,” Fiore said. “However, (the legislation) had not been approved at that time.”
The convenience the app offers in eliminating navigation difficulties in unfamiliar cities and streets was the inspiration for another driver, Zachary Willis, a senior political science major from Savannah, Georgia, to sign up for the service.
The city of Troy, although small, has its residential housing dispersed throughout the city. Most of the businesses and stores are located on U.S. Highway 231, with the nearest Publix or Walmart being at least five to seven minutes’ drive from the university.
“Its really difficult to get around Troy when you don’t have your own car,” said Tomiwa Akintode, a sophomore communication major from Lagos, Nigeria. “Troy is an international college town, and since many of the students are international, they don’t own a car of their own.
“It was high time that we got the ridesharing service.”
Students who don’t have a vehicle of their own usually rely on the university shuttle service or their peers to commute around town. The university shuttle operates on fixed routes, which usually cover most of the regions in the city. However, due to the rigidity of the routes and the unpredictability of the arrival and departure times, the services have not been much of a convenience.
“People constantly need rides to get around Troy, especially after hours when the university’s bus system isn’t operating,” Willis said. “Students both local and international that do not have a car and need to get around Troy safely to the bars and parties on the weekend, they needed an alternative.”
Fiore has seen a surge in demand for Uber during gamedays and weekends.
“Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. along with game days would get the most business,” he said. “This allows people to not worry as much about where they park for the game and also would help eliminate drunk driving.”
For Jessica Shrestha, a senior computer science major from Kathmandu, Nepal, and an employee at the university dining services, the ride-hailing app offers a safe and convenient option of transport during odd hours.
“I get off from work late in the evening when it’s usually dark already,” Shrestha said. “Walking from the opposite end of the university to the shuttle stop isn’t easy; plus sometimes the call doesn’t get through to the night shuttle driver.
“It is going to be a huge relief to have Uber at my disposal when I have to commute back home in the evenings.”
As of now, Fiore and Willis are the only two drivers operating with Uber in Troy. Both the students have been providing services during their free time between their classes and afterward.
“Uber has the potential to become very effective if there are more drivers so that there are at least a few drivers online throughout the day when the others are offline,” Willis said.
The app has the potential of becoming a convenient source of income for students who have irregular class schedules, where they can operate in hours of their own terms.
According to Fiore, Uber pays 60 percent of the total cost of the ride to the driver, and the drivers also get to keep the additional tips. The sign-up process for becoming an Uber driver is fairly simple and can be accessed from its website.