Why are Uber and Lyft not in Youngstown?

Ridesharing apps have come to other similar-sized cities. Why not Youngstown?

Over the last two years, Uber has expanded to 20 metro areas that are of similar size as the Youngstown-Warren region. But they do not yet offer service in the Mahoning Valley.
Over the last two years, Uber has expanded to 20 metro areas that are of similar size as the Youngstown-Warren region. But they do not yet offer service in the Mahoning Valley.

For a graphic of Uber population statistics and an interactive chat with reporter James Santelli, scroll to the bottom of this story. If you are viewing this on the WKBN app, click here to access those interactive features.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The State of Ohio passed a ridesharing law in December that Uber said was a positive for its business.

But they also told 27 Investigates that they consider supply and demand before they move to new markets.

If there is one spot in the region where people would want to use Uber and Lyft, it’s in downtown Youngstown, where a number of bars and restaurants have become popular for YSU students and other customers on Friday and Saturday nights.

Youngstown’s Coordinator of Downtown Events Michael McGiffin said he can see the demand for ridesharing in the Valley.

“Uber would probably be successful, at least their drivers would be successful in this area,” McGiffin said. “Same thing with Lyft. But I largely think their business would happen in the evening to late-night hours.”

WKBN’s James Santelli asked several people downtown on evening weekends if they’d be interested, and the response was positive.

A chart from Uber shows that the number of ride requests in Pittsburgh spikes on Saturday and Sunday mornings, around 2 a.m.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol said that, incidentally, that is when they make the most arrests for Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated.

“The higher level arrests for OVI is usually Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the week,” OSHP Sergeant Brian Vail said.

Sergeant Vail said OVI rates went down in Mahoning County last year. But he also thinks having Uber and Lyft could reduce drunk driving even more.

“Uber isn’t in the area, but I think that would be a great tool for people to use. Do the smart thing,” Vail said. “The right thing to do is have that available. Just plug that in your phone. Have a driver available. I think that’s great.”

Trying to figure out how much demand there is for cabs here in Youngstown, WKBN called four different cab companies that operate in the city. Three of them didn’t want to talk on camera. The fourth canceled three scheduled interviews because of ride requests.

Click the image below to see an expanded version.


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