Everyone’s private driver is now in Rexburg.
Uber is a free mobile app available on iPhone, Android and Windows phone devices. From a mobile smartphone, Uber will send a driver to pick up a person and take him or her to his or her destination.
Uber is available in most major cities in the U.S. and in various countries throughout the world, according to the Uber website.
However, it has not been available to the Rexburg community until January, when Jackson Hern, Rexburg’s first Uber driver and a sophomore studying economics, said he used the service in his hometown, then noticed Rexburg had no active Uber drivers. He said that during the winter break, he signed up to be a partner and started driving for Uber.
“With Uber, it’s really convenient,” Hern said. “Every time someone needs a ride, they just push the button on the app, and I drive over to their house, pick them up and take them to Wal-Mart or wherever and back. It’s all on demand.”
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Hern said he can fit up to four people in his car and that Uber provides options to split the fare among groups of riders.
“The cool thing is, whenever I’m available, all they need to do is get the Uber app and request a ride,” Hern said. “But sometimes in the evenings, I might not be online in that moment, so I have a lot of students text me when they want to go out, and I’ll hop online.”
Hern said Uber is not meant to travel long distances.
“It’s not meant to travel from Rexburg to Idaho Falls,” Hern said. “That’d be too expensive. But it’s meant to go grocery shopping. It’s meant to go to the temple and back. It’s meant for FHE and going to St. Anthony.”
Chelsea Ayllon, a senior studying English, used Uber this semester for the first time with her roommate for a ride to get some ice cream.
“He contacted us and said he was outside in the parking lot, so we just walked out, and he was there and took us to Nielsen’s,” Ayllon said. “He dropped us off and told us to call him back when we were finished. So we called him, and he was there in two minutes and took us back to our apartment.”
Hern said there is a flat rate of $2.50. After that, every mile is $1.75 and every minute is 25 cents.
“It’s all calculated for you,” Hern said. “You put your credit card on your Uber account, and it tells you the amount at the end of the trip. It’s a cashless system. It’s all between you and your phone.”
Ayllon said each of the new public transportation services in Rexburg serves a different purpose for her.
“I wouldn’t use the city bus,” Ayllon said. “I would use the shuttle if I wanted to go to Wal-Mart, but if I wanted to go somewhere else around town or near Rexburg, I would probably use Uber because I think it would be faster, and it’s not that expensive.”
Hern said he hopes Uber continues to grow in Rexburg and that more drivers will be available in the community.
“I want other people to sign up to drive,” Hern said. “I’m excited to be the first, and I’m excited that I have the resources and time to make it big. I think Uber will do very well in a college town like this. Uber has done very well in college towns across the nation.”