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Uber Expanding North Of Charlotte This Weekend

Jennifer Lang

Starting at 2 p.m. Friday, people who need a ride in Concord, Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville will have another option: Uber. The ride-sharing company is rolling out expanded service in the surrounding Charlotte area this weekend.

Uber’s North Carolina General Manager Arathi Mehrotra said the company has seen pent-up demand from users in the area opening up the company’s application to order rides and not finding any nearby. In order to expand, she said the company likes app users to see drivers within five minutes of them, and that’s something they can provide in the four new locations starting this weekend.

“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 often shops around for the best regulatory deal wherever it goes and has occasionally run afoul of regulators, including in South Carolina. An effort by Charlotte to regulate Uber service was ultimately tabled by City Council in anticipation of state regulations.

North Carolina Senate Bill 541 would require Uber to pay $5,000 to state’s 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 currently in committee, because “it embraces ride-sharing for what it is,” and shows North Carolina lawmakers have embraced ride-sharing as a transportation alternative instead of trying to squeeze it into existing taxi cab 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.