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Uber recruiting for jobs that don’t exist yet, and may not exist at all

Avery Schneider

An unmade decision in Albany on whether or not to permit ride-sharing in Buffalo and across upstate New York didn’t stop the ride-sharing company Uber from hosting a job fair in downtown Buffalo on Tuesday.

Hundreds of Western New Yorkers came to Pearl Street Bar and Grill to talk with Uber staff members and sign up for jobs that don’t exist yet, and may not exist at all. Uber’s New York General Manager Josh Mohrer said flexible economic opportunities are what draws interest wherever Uber offers employment.

Mixed among the crowd of stay-at-home moms, millennials, and retirees were current commercial cab drivers. Abuzafar Sayeeduddin works for a commercial cab company in the Buffalo area and drove yellow cabs in New York City before that. He said he’s excited about the prospect of Uber coming to Buffalo. Sayeeduddin said the main appeal of Uber is fair distribution of work – something he and his co-workers don’t experience with their current employer.

Sayeeduddin said he also looks forward to the freedom of working for himself and the safety he expects with Uber driving. The latter is among the many topics Mohrer is promoting on Uber’s tour across New York. He said there’s been a lot of misinformation about safety with ride-sharing that he wants to clarify.

“Great insurance, background checks, the ride is safe,” proclaimed Mohrer. “There’s no cash being transacted in the car. He’s not picking up anonymous people, he knows who’s getting in his car.”

Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News
Josh Mohrer, General Manager for Uber New York

Uber drivers undergo third party background checks on the local state and federal level, according to Mohrer. He said every Uber ride is provided with $1-million in insurance coverage. Mohrer also pointed out that Uber offers the ability for drivers and passengers to not only see one another’s profiles, but to also rate each other following each trip. Mohrer also claimed that in cities across the country where Uber operates the rate of drunk driving is markedly lower.

Bryan Funk, 29, of Tonawanda was among the area residents who is interested in joining up with Uber. He said he believes less drunk driving could be a possible side effect of Uber in Buffalo, based on concern by passengers for both their safety and their wallets.

“If they’re dropping the prices to be able to get home, it makes more sense for people to have money to do it,” said Funk. “If they’re spending $50, $60, sometimes they’re just going to say, ‘Okay, I’ll take my chances and drive home.’ If they’re spending $25, $30, its like, ‘Okay, I can just pay the 30 bucks and not have to worry about it.’ So I think it’s possible.”

Mohrer said Uber’s tour around the state aims to show elected officials and community leaders that there is widespread interest in ride-sharing. He said state-wide, 350,000 people have download the Uber app on their phones, including those in localities where the service has yet to be established. Even without ridesharing being available, over 2000 people in Buffalo are opening the Uber app each week, according to Mohrer.

“So we sort of see it as kind of like voting for where Uber comes next. Saying ‘I’m here, I want to use this.’ People really want a reliable and affordable and safe ride; a transportation alternative,” said Mohrer.

State legislators plan to meet in Albany on Wednesday for a discussion with commercial car and cab companies as well as ride-sharing operators. They aim to work out new regulations which would be voted on after the start of the next legislative session in January.

Whether or not drivers hit the road for Uber in Buffalo remains to be seen, but Mohrer said if the law is passed to allow it, Uber will have operations running in the city within a two-week timeframe.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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