MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – While Uber says their service has arrived in Myrtle Beach, the city says the business does not have a license to operate here.
According to the Uber.com blog, the popular smartphone-based transportation company hit the streets of Myrtle Beach at noon on Thursday.
The company is now offering the "uberX" ridesharing service in Myrtle Beach, Greenville, Columbia and Charleston, with driver partners providing "Uber reliability with prices cheaper than a taxi."
On Thursday afternoon, city spokesman Mark Kruea released a statement explaining that Uber does not have a business license to operate, and no certificates of convenience and necessity have been issued for any Uber taxi vehicles.
"In other words, Uber is not legally authorized to conduct business in the City of Myrtle Beach at this time," Kruea stated.
In response, Kaitlin Durkosh with Uber Technologies provided the following statement:
"Uber is not a transportation company. We're a technology company that connects riders to drivers with the safest ride on the road. The bottom line is we've received overwhelmingly positive support from riders in South Carolina who are excited for access to safe, affordable and reliable transportation alternatives, and from drivers who rely on the increased economic opportunities and flexibility Uber provides. We look forward to continuing conversations with city and state officials to modernize regulations and find a permanent home for Uber in South Carolina."
The company claims that both new and existing users of the service can get their first five rides – up to $25 – for free. For details on how to get free rides, check out the Uber.com blog post here: http://blog.uber.com/SCLovesUber
According to uber.com's Myrtle Beach page, the base fare is $1.95, plus 20 cents a minute and $1.75 a mile. Sample vehicles include a Chevrolet Tahoe, a Ford Focus, and a Chrysler Town and Country, and all vehicles seat up to four people.
For details, and to get a specific fare quote, visit: https://www.uber.com/cities/myrtle-beach
Uber is featured in more than 130 cities across the globe, including cities in North Carolina.
Some call it convenient, some call it costly. One thing's for sure, Uber has caused controversy in other cities with taxis; it even revved up conversation here in Myrtle Beach.
"Some great ideas and like everything else it's got some negativity to it, behind it, especially people with small businesses like mine," said John Wadzinski with Resorts Transportation.
He's been in the business almost 20 years, and is worried adding more cars to the market might impact the dollars existing companies see. Wadzinski said there's times when we don't have enough cabs to cover the area, but most of the time, we do.
Uber representatives say this is where Uber taxi comes in. It pairs users with rides with existing drivers from cab companies. There are several different Uber services, and not all are available in each city. The cheapest option, uberX, is becoming more common. It takes on local drivers to do the job after they pass strict screening. The company says this branch can be up to 40 percent cheaper than a taxi.
Spokesperson Mark Kruea says Uber looks and acts like a taxi service, which is regulated in the city. If adjustments need to be made to the city code, that is to be determined.
Uber can be found across the globe and the company says it's creating 20,000 driver jobs every month.