Uber in North Dakota

In the fall of 2013, I packed my bags and moved to the bustling metropolis of Chicago for grad school at Experience Institute.

While living in Chicago, my classmates and I experienced the variety that comes with living in one of America's largest cities. From food to museums, nightlife to transportation, we had so many options.

This was when I took my first ride with ridesharing service, Uber.  

Through your mobile phone, Uber allows you to request a ride -- much like hailing a cab -- but that’s just the start. By connecting riders with drivers, Uber creates opportunities for drivers to schedule their own hours and use an asset they already own, their car, to make money. Riders receive a service that is reliable, affordable, and timely.

As I continued to use the service, I became more intrigued by the model. This was aided by meeting one of the first Uber employees in Chicago. Hearing stories of drivers paying off student debt, saving for the future, or taking a risk on a business of their own made me understand the power of the ridesharing platform.

After moving home to Fargo in the Fall of 2014, I started to think about the impact that Uber could have on my community.

And that's when the state of North Dakota got involved.

A bill was being introduced which would’ve created unprecedented insurance regulations on the ridesharing industry, which wasn’t even in existence in the state.

I knew I wanted to get involved in the discussion, but would need some help. Uber was thinking the same thing.

Enter Kenny. Kenny was the Uber teammate overseeing the Midwest region and, thanks to some urban serendipity, we had met in a cafe a few months earlier. Kenny was the only person I knew at Uber, and I was the only person Kenny knew in North Dakota. It was a perfect match.

I hadn’t been the only person thinking about the impact of Uber in Fargo. Once the word got out, the community came to help. Senators Jon Kasper and George Sinner were some of the first to answer the call and speak with Kenny and the team from Uber. This sparked the support from community members, friends, and past colleagues looking for ways to help Uber navigate the legislative maze in North Dakota.

After weeks of emailing, conversing, and lobbying in Bismarck, House Bill 1441 was signed into law, which provided oversight for ridesharing and allowed companies like Uber to operate in North Dakota.

On Thursday, May 14th, Uber went live in Fargo. 

On Thursday, May 14th, Uber went live in Fargo.

 

This put Fargo on the map as the first city in America to be ready for Uber even before they arrived.

I share this story not only to highlight Uber’s arrival in Fargo, or to show what kind of impact citizens can have on legislation, but to recognize the fact that a simple café collision and introduction can lead you down a path you never expected.

Joe

P.S. If you signed up for Uber yet, use this invite link and get a free ride up to $20.

 

Posted on July 31, 2015 and filed under Demonstration.