July 19, 2016

Tomblin and Manchin catch the first Uber ride in West Virginia | WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Uber rides are now available in the state of West Virginia.

On Monday, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin were the first passengers in the state to catch a ride in Charleston.

“I’m real excited and pleased to be riding with my senior Senator,” Tomblin said with laugh.

“I have my app. See?” Manchin said as he showed reporters his request for a ride through Uber’s mobile app.

Tomblin and Manchin took a ride from Capitol Market to the state Capitol. A press conference was then held there to launch the ride sharing service in West Virginia.

“I think it’s a great service,” Tomblin said. “I think it’s going to create some jobs for those drivers out there and help people come into town that needs transportation around.”

Uber drivers will have flexible hours, making it easier for people to work their own hours, Manchin said.

“They’re their own employer, so the people that work with Uber, they set their hours, they set their time, they work when they want to work where ever they want to work as long as they’re close to the app,” he said.

Tomblin said he never took an Uber ride before Monday, but plans on downloading the app after he leaves office. Manchin said he frequently uses Uber in the Washington, D.C. area.

“It really works out great,” Manchin said. “West Virginia is on board now.”

Ronnie Cameron, operations manager at Uber, said they plan on expanding out to other areas in West Virginia like Morgantown and Huntington. He said Charleston is catching up to major cities nationwide.

“A lot of times people think Uber is a big city thing. We’re in so many smaller markets and smaller cities because people around the country need to be able to get affordable transportation,” Cameron said.

Uber has been able to prevent many drunk driving cases because now people have an option to request a ride in a timely manner, Cameron said.

All Uber drivers have to go through a background check to ensure passenger safety.

“We check criminal and driving history to make sure everyone on the platform is of a certain standard and pretty much to make sure riders feel safe,” Cameron said. “We also have 24/7 monitoring of all trips to make sure that all drivers and riders feel safe on every single trip.”

Tom Hayes, general manager of Uber in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., commended the West Virginia Legislature Monday for passing the ride sharing bill earlier this year to allow ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in the Mountain State.

The app is available for both iPhone and Android devices.