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Brandi Talley, driver and owner of Tabs Transportation, regales stories and difficulties of dealing with drunken passengers. She said working Halloween, New Years and Friday nights are the worst shifts. (FILE)

Uber seeks expansion, does not confirm any plans for Ohio University

An Uber spokeswoman didn’t confirm and plans for the app to provide service to the Ohio University area, but did say the company was “always looking for opportunities for expansion.”

Claire Jares said she had a good experience using Uber to get back to her car after she parked it too far away from a party in Akron and would rather use the app than a traditional taxi service.

“It wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be,” Jares, a freshman studying biology, said. “That was one of my concerns — that I would get some weirdo. They were nice. There were some awkward silences, but it wasn’t too uncomfortable.”

For students seeking a ride home from the bars, Uber might become an option someday. Recent campaigns by the ride-hailing service suggest the app as a designated driver service.

According to the report published by the San Francisco-based company and Mothers Against Drunk Driving in January, the service’s entry into Seattle coincided with a 10 percent decrease in drunk driving charges.

“The results were robust and statistically significant, providing meaningful evidence of the power Uber’s network of safe, reliable rides has on drunk driving in major metropolitan cities,” according to the report.

Additionally, Uber may be seeking to expand into upstate New York, where it could serve different places such as Syracuse University, according to a New York Times article.

In an email, Lauren Altmin, an Uber spokeswoman, did not confirm or deny that Uber had any plans to expand to include the Ohio University area.

“I can tell you that Uber is always looking at opportunities for expansion,” Altmin said.

To Austin Paulenske, hailing an Uber after a night of drinking would be “like getting in a car with a stranger.”

“If you’re, like, a drunk girl, it might be dangerous,” Paulenske, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering said. “If you’re a guy, it might be fine.”

Michele Papai, D-3rd Ward of Athens City Council and chair of the transportation committee, said she’d be open to Uber “with the proper regulations for our city.”

“I know some of the concerns are proper taxing and licensing,” Papai said.

Papai said she was aware of some of the safety concerns when using Uber.

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“I’m seeing things that are safety concerns in other communities, but those might be due to the regulations of those particular cities,” Papai said.

Jares and Paulenske both said that they live too close to Court Street right now to really need the service.

“I’m broke as it is,” Jares said. “I feel safe walking here, too.”


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