Tampa Bay may soon become home to UberEATS, a food delivery service that makes dining-in a breeze, however its beloved parent company could be forced to take its services elsewhere.
Uber has been battling restrictions from the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission (PTC) and may have found a way to remain in Tampa regardless of the upcoming vote on regulating not only Uber but other transportation network companies as well.
The PTC cannot regulate food delivery services, which means UberEATS technically will not be under its jurisdiction, allowing the company to keep its Tampa following.
The inclusion of Tampa into UberEATS will greatly benefit USF students. Food delivery services like Doorstep Delivery or GrubHub have yet to truly take off in the area due to delivery times that average at an hour.
Uber claims to be able to beat that by nearly half with “the average order (taking) 35 minutes from the start to the finish,” according to UberEATS.com
“Sources” told the Tampa Bay Business Journal that favorite Tampa restaurants like Ceviche, the SoHo Donut Company and Taco bus are expected to be included in the app.
The aggressively negative response from PTC toward Uber is doing nothing but hurting Hillsborough residents. Yes, the taxi industry is suffering to the rise of cheaper, faster transportation services like Uber and Lyft.
However, binding the hands of those services will not revive the commerce directed toward taxis. Pinellas County has accepted that reality and its public transportation agency went so far as to partner with Uber and Lyft on two programs to ensure the prosperity of the region as a whole.
Uber has become a staple of college students’ lives and the PTC must consider the repercussions of voting against the company for those living within their turf.
Students at USF value not only the lower prices provided by Uber but also the convenience of the simple-to-use app.
Despite claims of safety concerns by the PTC, most users do not feel that Uber is dangerous due to the rider-based rating system, which weeds out unreliable drivers.
Riders are able to share their ETA with friends so the journey can be monitored and all payments are done via the app so there is no risk of fare disputes or carrying cash to pay for the ride.
In fact, the company is offering a contest for a student to win a semester’s worth of free Uber rides, a $1,600 credit, in order to make it “easier and safer for Florida college and university students to get around,” Uber said in a press release.
Students don’t want to see Uber go, and its forced removal by the PTC will not go over well in Hillsborough.
The possibility of a community without Uber does guarantee one thing: UberEATS will be receiving a large amount of business.
Many living in Tampa, whether students at USF, UT, or HCC, do not have vehicles and rely heavily on the transportation services offered by Uber.
A trip to the airport for students at USF is only $20 through Uber. The same trip is $47 in a Yellow Cab. Eating at an establishment not directly beside campus will soon be a privilege many will not be able to afford when forced to rely on taxis.
Being able to order Taco Bus from the Library and knowing it will be there within a half hour will ensure the app is as frequently used among students as Twitter.
Within the next few months, Tampa will learn if PTC will vote in the best interest of Hillsborough or if they will continue to try to regulate a perfectly safe and reliable business.
Regardless of their decision, Tampa residents can at least console themselves with the knowledge Uber will continue to put users first, even if Tampa loses half of what would be a great pairing.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.