Uber is coming to Boise, at least temporarily. The ride-sharing app, which connects passengers with drivers, starts a temporary free trail in the city Thursday.
Uber has been around since 2009 and operates in more than 200 cities worldwide.
It works like this: riders download an app on their phone, plug in a destination, and choose a driver to pick them up. Drivers use their own cars.
Uber's west coast launch manager Steve Thompson says it's time the ride sharing program came to Boise. "We always listen to the community. We've heard from thousands of riders and hundreds of drivers that are hungry for [us] to come to this market, so we're listening," Thompson says, "That's why we're bringing [it] here, because Boise deserves Uber and we're excited to bring it."
Thompson says Uber drivers go through background checks and carry both private insurance and are covered by the company during a ride. He says the transaction is completely electronic, with no cash changing hands.
Uber critics, like the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association, say ride sharing companies use amateur drivers, are not adequately insured, and drivers aren't regulated by cities, like taxi drivers.
Uber has run into trouble in some cities which want to regulate the company like taxis. Uber has been meeting with Boise officials this week in advance of their free trial. City spokesman Adam Park says the mayor and city council will decide whether Uber will be subject to the city's existing taxi regulations, or if it will considered a separate transportation network.
For Uber's Boise trial, riders will each get 43 free rides. After that, Thompson says Uber will gauge the response before deciding its next move.
Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio
Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio