Uber launched a new initiative called Uber Urban Partnership on Monday in a push to expand the ride-sharing service's presence in South Florida -- and on a grand scale.
The initiative, also known as UberUP, aims to hire 10,000 new drivers in the area, providing customers with faster and more reliable service. Likewise, Uber says it hopes that hiring new drivers will create jobs for local communities.
Dozens of prospective drivers gathered at the Miami Gardens event to begin the hiring process, filling out paperwork and submitting copies of their driver’s licenses and auto insurance. The prospective drivers filled a conference room at the Betty T. Ferguson Center, where Uber employees answered questions and assisted future drivers with their applications. The mayors of Doral and Miami Gardens were also in attendance.
Among those applying was John Atis, a 25-year-old student at Florida International University, who thought driving for Uber might be a good way to earn extra cash.
“Everywhere I go, I hear Uber. You know, from the radio station, to Drake, from the articles, to word of mouth, to the media,” Atis said. “So I said, 'Why not check it out?'”
Kasra Moshkani, general manager for Uber in South Florida, said that hiring more drivers in the region would not only provide customers with more reliable service, but would also create thousands of new jobs.
"There’s clearly a very high demand for people who are looking to get access to rides in five minutes or less no matter where they are here in South Florida. That’s a big mission to achieve,” said Moshkani. “And at the same time, it brings these economic opportunities to these urban communities, where people are clearly very excited to take advantage of them.”
But not everybody is so excited about Uber’s expanding presence in South Florida.
Taxi operators contend that Uber’s success comes at their expense. The complaints have prompted legal action in places like Key West, where local authorities banned Uber and arrested a driver earlier in July. Likewise, Uber has announced that it will cease operating in Broward County due to excessive restrictions and regulation.
Even some Uber drivers have expressed qualms about the company.
One current driver, who wished not to be named for fear of repercussions from Uber, complained that the company is unresponsive to driver concerns. He argued that Uber’s several recent fare cuts have forced drivers like him to work on impossibly low margins.
Uber has never responded adequately to his concerns, he said, so he showed up at Monday’s event to speak with Uber representatives personally.