Ellensburg welcomes Uber, new cab company following Rodeo weekend

Matt Escamilla, Staff Reporter

Calling someone for a ride home after a night out demonstrates responsibility and can keep someone safe and out of legal trouble. Knowing the ride home is a fair price and safe can be a key factor in whether or not someone makes that call.

“I started this business as a way to prevent drinking and driving,” said Ken Swanson, owner of Rodeo Town Taxi.   

Since 2009, the idea of a ride home forever changed with the creation of Uber–a personal car service in which the customer can ask for a ride via their smartphone.

Uber has arrived in Ellensburg according to David Douglas’s Facebook; Douglas is a driver for the car service.

Uber has arrived in Ellensburg. Download the app and use Uber next time you need a ride,” his Facebook reads. Uber has two drivers in Ellensburg at the moment.

Jasmine Leaptrot, a junior in the business program, has used Uber before and said the process is straightforward.  

“Overall pretty good experience, enjoyable and simple,” Leaptrot said. “ [The] cost may have been a little more than expected.”

She also thinks Uber is here to stay.

I believe that it gained popularity due to it being a fad but that it will remain popular because of its convenience and reliability,” Leaptrot said.

As of Rodeo weekend, a third transportation option became available: a taxi service called KC Cab owned by Stephen Jennings.

“Our commitment is to strive to be there on time every time and provide the best customer service possible at a reasonable price,” Jennings said.

Both KC Cab and Rodeo Town Taxi have drivers who work most days, and are both priced at $7 per ride for students.

Jennings said the taxi industry’s frustration with Uber’s business model is that Uber doesn’t classify as a taxi service, which means they are able to bypass start up fees.

Uber also doesn’t provide passenger protection like taxi services. According to reports published on CNET, Uber’s terms and services do not include passenger liability.

Jennings agreed that Uber’s lack of passenger safety is one of the main gripes he has about his competition.

According to Swanson, he spends $600 to $800 a year on training which includes CPR and detailed background checks.