Uber use on the rise for busi­ness trav­ellers

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - TRAVEL - By Scott Mayerowitz

NEW YORK — Busi­ness trav­ellers are by­pass­ing the taxi queue with greater fre­quency, choos­ing in­stead ride-hail­ing ser­vices like Uber Tech­nolo­gies.

A new re­port by ex­pense man­age­ment sys­tem provider Cer­tify shows that 47 per cent of the ground trans­porta­tion rides by its users in March were through Uber. That’s more than tripled from the 14 per cent of rides that Uber had just over a year ago in Jan­uary 2014. In a few cities, Uber now tops taxi rides for busi­ness trav­ellers.

“While we of­ten see note­wor­thy mar­ket shifts — lead­ing restau­rant chains and ho­tels ex­chang­ing lead­er­ship po­si­tions, for ex­am­ple — it is un­prece­dented to see one ven­dor grow to take such a com­mand­ing mar­ket share within one year’s time,” says Cer­tify CEO Bob Neveu.

While taxis, lim­ou­sines and air­port shut­tles still dom­i­nate the ground trans­porta­tion busi­ness, Cer­tify’s re­port shows ride-hail­ing ser­vices are rapidly on the rise among busi­ness trav­ellers. Cer­tify based its find­ing on the 28 mil­lion trip re­ceipts its North Amer­i­can clients sub­mit each year.

Uber con­nects trav­ellers with var­i­ous cars through its smart­phone app. Some driv­ers work for car ser­vice com­pa­nies; oth­ers spend a few hours driv­ing their per­sonal cars on the side for some ex­tra money.

Busi­ness trav­ellers might be quickly mov­ing to­ward Uber, but their em­ploy­ers have some ma­jor con­cerns.

Mike McCormick, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Global Busi­ness Travel As­so­ci­a­tion, notes many com­pa­nies are wor­ried about is­sues of safety and li­a­bil­ity. Depend­ing on the city, Uber driv­ers aren’t nec­es­sar­ily reg­u­lated by gov­ern­ment taxi-li­cens­ing au­thor­i­ties. Big limou­sine or air­port shut­tle com­pa­nies carry in­sur­ance; in­di­vid­u­als moon­light­ing as driv­ers don’t al­ways, though both Uber and com­peti­tor Lyft in­sure their driv­ers dur­ing paid rides. McCormick says that be­comes a li­a­bil­ity and “duty of care” is­sue for com­pa­nies send­ing work­ers on trips.

Uber has faced crit­i­cism its em­ploy­ees in­ap­pro­pri­ately ac­cessed cus­tomer data and that it does not prop­erly screen driv­ers to en­sure they have clean crim­i­nal records.

In a few cities, Uber beats out taxis by a wide mar­gin for busi­ness trav­ellers. In its home town of San Fran­cisco, 71 per cent of rides ex­pensed through Cer­tify dur­ing the first quar­ter were for Uber; 29 per cent used taxis. Uber also beat out all other forms of ground trans­porta­tion in Dal­las, ac­count­ing for 56 per cent of the rides.

In Los An­ge­les and Wash­ing­ton D.C., Uber rep­re­sented 49 per cent of busi­ness travel rides. Taxis, lim­ou­sines and air­port shut­tles still reigned in New York, Miami and Chicago where they took 79 per cent, 77 per cent and 75 per cent of rides ex­pensed, re­spec­tively.

PAM PANCHAK / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Matte Braidic, an Uber driver in Pitts­burgh, has turned rideshar­ing into a full-time job.

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