As the ridesharing company Uber continues to introduce its service into the outer boroughs, the company is making it easier for new drivers to join their ranks.
On Wednesday March 8 at 11 a.m., Uber and the NYC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting at the company’s newest Greenlight Hub at the New Horizons Shopping Mall at 961 E. 174th Street.
The 3,000-square-foot office is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and is staffed by company employees trained to assist current and prospective drivers, said New York City area Greenlight Hub manager Jeanine Mendez.
Approximately 1,700 future and current drivers visit the center each week, according to the company.
“Our goal is to make sure that people who want to get on the road and want to be affiliated with Uber are able to come into one of our locations and get assistance navigating the TLC process,” Mendez said. “That process is expensive and it can take quite a few months to get through it, so we try to minimize the cost and make it as easy as possible.”
Uber differs from traditional car-for-hire services in that drivers operate using a software application that can be downloaded on smartphones and other electronic devices.
The app is used by customers to request a driver to pick them up at a given location and drive them to where they want to go.
Payment transactions are also done electronically.
Uber drivers also differ from traditional taxi drivers in that they use their own vehicles and set their own work schedule.
In addition to competing with city car service companies, Uber also faces competition from Lyft, a similar platform that is also gaining customers in the New York City area.
Company representatives at the hub provide assistance for new drivers looking to navigate the city’s onerous Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) licensing process.
Prospective drivers can also sign up for free classes required by the TLC offered daily at the company’s other Greenlight Hub in Long Island City, Queens.
The Bronx hub quietly opened its doors earlier this month, according to the company, and has been ramping up to serve the over 40,000 TLC-licensed drivers who complete a trip for Uber each week.
The new facility also aims at being a place for drivers to interact with Uber representatives to answer questions and learn more about the service.
In addition to the resources provided by Uber, the hub also includes space for vendors that sell car insurance.
Mendez said the Bronx was among the fastest growing New York City markets for Uber, and new drivers were wanted.
“We have more riders and more drivers in the community every week, so the Bronx is very important to Uber and our partners,” Mendez said.