Uber Tacoma rumor drives mixed reaction

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 13, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 12:18 PM

TACOMA, Wash. -- Uber hints at expanding ridesharing service to the South Sound.

A newly-created Twitter account “Uber_Tacoma” posted a tweet saying, “Hey Tacoma! We’ve got our sights set on you,” driving mixed reaction.

“Obviously, that gets your competitive juices up,” said Keven Waiters, a driver with Tacoma Yellow Cab.

Since Waiters has a loyal clientele and mostly works during the day, he doesn’t think he’ll be affected if Uber begins operations in Tacoma.

“I think it would affect some of the other drivers, probably more so at night,” he said.

Uber spokesman Andrew Noyes declined to give any more information about the possible expansion. In an email, Noyes told KING 5, “Stay tuned…We’ll let you know when there’s more to share.”

“If they’re rumored to be coming they must think there’s a market for what they do. If they think they’re going to get that kind of customer, I think they’ll be very surprised,” said Waiters.

But employees at downtown businesses believe there is a need for rideshare service in Tacoma.

“The face of Tacoma is changing. It’s getting more urban, and they’re bringing more commerce. I think it’s going to really support that,” said Lara Sisco, who works at Business Interiors Northwest.

“I was really excited about it, I hope it’s true,” said Ryan Mello, Tacoma City Councilman.

According to Mello, the service can be a way to grow the city’s tax base and provide more public services.

“We’re going to be as welcoming as possible in Tacoma to these businesses,” said Mello.

City leaders don’t know how to regulate Uber in Tacoma yet, but say rules may be similar to recently drafted ones regarding taxis. They include having a security camera, cleanliness and being in safe condition.  But, since the service is operated differently than the traditional taxi, some measures won’t be needed.

“We would have to look at the regulations to see if there’s consistency,” he said.

But for now, Waiters says “Uber Tacoma”  is only a rumor.

“Just wait and see what goes on and deal with the situation when it happens,” he said.
 

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