A first for Uber in the US — and it's happening in Colorado Springs

January 11, 2017 Updated: January 13, 2017 at 1:24 pm
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Drivers will start accepting cash Jan. 17 from riders in Colorado Springs. (AP file)

Ride-sharing giant Uber is trying a "new" technology for the first time nationwide in Colorado Springs - cash.

Drivers will start accepting cash Jan. 17 from riders, who still must use the smartphone application to seek a ride and will get any change as a credit to their Uber account, which can be cashed out through online cash service PayPal, Uber spokeswoman Taylor Patterson said Tuesday. The system will be gradually rolled out in other cities in coming months, she said.

Uber already uses the cash system internationally in 150 cities and is launching the cash option to appeal to customers who don't have a credit or debit card or don't want to use them through a smartphone application, Patterson said.

The San Francisco-based company is launching the option in Colorado Springs because the city is a "solid market" for Uber and company officials believe "a number of people here who have never used Uber who would benefit from a system like this, including those without a personal vehicle, those who may not want to drive in bad weather and those who use the bus and need to bridge the last mile between the bus stop and their home or work," she said.

"Uber's mission is to provide access to reliable transportation everywhere for everyone. Innovations that make transportation more affordable and accessible like uberPOOL have helped us make progress toward that mission, but to serve more people we have to meet them where they are in ways that meet their needs," Patterson said. "Not everyone has a credit card or feels OK handing one over to a service they've never used. We get that, so we developed a solution using technology to enable people who want to pay with cash to do so with our app.

Uber drivers have the option of using or declining to use the cash system. Riders who book an Uber vehicle are told what fare they will pay in advance, so they can make sure they bring enough cash to pay for the trip, Patterson said.

Uber was started in 2008, began serving Colorado Springs in mid-2014 and is available in more than 550 cities worldwide. The company uses its smartphone application to connect those looking for rides to drivers who use their own vehicles to provide point-to-point transportation.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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