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Uber expanding north of Charlotte this weekend

A user scans for an available vehicle using the Uber Technologies Inc.'s app on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 smartphone in this arranged photograph. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
A user scans for an available vehicle using the Uber Technologies Inc.'s app on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 smartphone in this arranged photograph. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg Charlotte

Starting Friday afternoon, people who need a ride in Concord, Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville will have another option: Uber.

The ridesharing company is rolling out service in those areas starting at 2 p.m.

Arathi Mehrotra, Uber’s North Carolina general manager, said the company has seen pent-up demand from users in those four towns who open the company’s application to order rides and don’t find any nearby.

“We want folks to open up the app and have access to a ride that comes straight to them within a few minutes,” Mehrotra said.

Providing that quick arrival hinges on available drivers, and Uber spokesperson Taylor Bennett said the company found demand from drivers looking to work with Uber in those areas.

Lyft, Uber’s main competitor in the ride-share business, has already expanded into Huntersville and Concord, but its service area doesn’t extend to Davidson and Cornelius, according to a map on its website.

The expansion would allow for an Uber ride to Charlotte Motor Speedway or the shores of Lake Norman. The company launched locally in September 2013.

The San Francisco-based company has occasionally run afoul of regulators, including in South Carolina. In January, that state’s Public Service Commission ordered Uber to stop giving rides, but later granted the company a temporary license through June 30. South Carolina lawmakers have been considering permanent regulations for Uber and its peers, and the matter is on the agenda for a special session this month.

An effort by Charlotte to regulate Uber and similar services was tabled in 2014 by City Council in anticipation of state regulations.

North Carolina Senate Bill 541 would require Uber to pay $5,000 to the state Department of Motor Vehicles for a permit, carry liability insurance of up to $1.5 million per vehicle and conduct a third-party background check.

Bennett said Uber supports the bill, which is in committee, because “it embraces ridesharing for what it is,” and shows North Carolina lawmakers view it as a transportation alternative instead of trying to squeeze it into existing taxi regulations.

Uber customers will have the same car options in the new coverage areas as they do in Charlotte – UberX, UberXL and its black car service.

Uber prices

Service

Base fare

Per minute rate

Per mile rate

UberX

$1.10

$0.16

$1

UberXL

$3

$0.30

$1.50

UberBlack

$7

$0.30

$3.10

*The prices above were found on Uber’s website, but don’t include prices for peak times. When passenger demand outpaces the drivers available, the company uses surge pricing – the price of a ride is increased in proportion to excess demand – to encourage other Uber drivers to become available.

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