YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The riding sharing service Uber was slow to make its way to Youngstown. But now, at its one-year anniversary, the business is doing well here.
The population of Youngstown has been shrinking for years, but there’s been a big demand for people needing rides.
Local driver Victoria Allen said Uber is doing well. She said the best part of the work for her is being able to pick her schedule.
“I hope it picks up even more because I like to make money,” Allen said.
That flexibility is what attracts drivers — and they quickly learn where to find the riders.
They’ve stopped driving around and, instead, hang out near the Covelli Centre, restaurants and bars, knowing someone is making a smart decision not to drive.
“Right now, it is really good for the area,” Uber driver Michael P. said. “DUIs are down. The frustrating part is there are a few too many Uber drivers in Youngstown right now.”
The OVI Task Force said Uber or Lyft drivers made up 25 percent of the vehicles coming through their St. Patrick’s Day checkpoint.
The popularity of using Uber sometimes sends drivers to where the riders are. Many will go to Cleveland or Pittsburgh a couple of times a week to get more business, but they’ve found out you can make money around Youngstown.
“I think it has been really successful,” driver Santana Crespo said. “We’ve had some nights where it has been really good, especially with the events going on. The events help us out.”
Drivers say they’ve taken people to church, restaurants and bars — and even strip clubs.
But late nights are best to be an Uber driver. The smaller rides pay some bills, but the longer ones to the Pittsburgh or Cleveland airports make good money.
“It’s a fun job. You see some interesting people,” Crespo said. “You can work whenever you want. Right now, if I was bored, I could turn the app on and go drive. There is always somebody that needs a ride somewhere.”
Uber takes the first $2.20 as a booking fee, and then 25-percent of the fare. Drivers get the rest.
“If you put it to work, you could make $500 to $600 a week if you are willing to put in the time,” Michael P. said.
Allen said she made 10 quick trips from the same place on Cinco de Mayo and $400 was her best night of fares.