Uber, the popular ride-hailing service, wants Austin residents to join its team.
The company said it has set a goal of creating 10,000 driver jobs on the South and West sides of Chicago, areas that have long been underserved by the taxi industry.
“We wanted to ensure that the economic opportunities that we are creating in the city of Chicago are also available to neighborhoods and communities that need and want them,” said Uber spokeswoman Brooke Anderson.
Anderson said because ridership on the West Side has more than doubled in the last six months (and even more so on the South Side), Uber needs more drivers in those areas.
“One out of every two Uber rides begins or ends in an underserved area,” Uber regional general manager Andrew MacDonald said in a recent press release.
Last week, Uber released data that shows since UberX launched in Chicago in 2013, more than 20,000 active driver-partner jobs have been created. These jobs have collectively earned Chicagoans more than $200 million, according to Uber.
Uber is holding a series of driver recruitment events this week and next to target drivers in Austin and other communities, including Garfield Park, Auburn Gresham and Chatham.
Sharon Holmes, a CPS teacher who lives in Austin, decided to pick up some extra cash working as a driver with Uber this summer.
Holmes said the efforts to increase driver jobs in areas like Austin, where she’s lived for 10 years, is a good thing. Especially since it’s near impossible to catch a cab in her neighborhood, she said.
“That’s my real beef about living in Austin – they’re not a lot of cabs,” Holmes said.
When she’s giving rides, Holmes said she always makes sure to service at least one ride request in Austin each day she works.
Besides spreading the word about Uber driver jobs, Holmes said getting the word out to people in the community, especially the elderly, would help increase ridership.
“I don’t know if the normal, everyday Austin citizen really knows what Uber is,” Holmes said.
Her riders have mostly been college-aged young adults.
Spreading the word at churches and community centers would help increase awareness, Holmes said.
“Let them know you can get to the doctor’s office and grocery store with Uber,” Holmes said. “Because in Austin, we don’t have a lot of grocery stores. A lot of people shop out of the area. Some people don’t even do that because they don’t have cars.”
Bree Rodriguez has been driving with Uber for nearly a year. The mother of a 1-year-old son, she plans to start school in the fall for childhood education and business management.
Being an Uber driver has provided Rodriguez the flexibility to manage these important areas of her life, while still being able to financially provide for her family, she said.
“I think it’s excellent for these communities, mainly because it’s giving us a stepping stone to get ahead as far as being our own managers and being able to make our own schedule,” Rodriguez said.
Ald. Emma Mitts supports Uber’s efforts to recruit more drivers from the West Side.
“When people have jobs, it helps them to be able to empower their families,” the 37th Ward alderman said. She and Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward) took part in a press conference the company held last month.
Having people within the community work as Uber drivers also brings the community together, Mitts said.
“It will help us connect one another,” she said. “There’s an opportunity for relationships to be built.”