SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A ride sharing app called Uber is considering expanding their services to Shreveport.
The smart-phone app connects riders with drivers in 57 countries and more than 100 cities in the United States.
Uber has confirmed the company is testing the waters in Shreveport by posting driver job ads to gauge if people would be interested in working as drivers.
Uber spokesman Bill Gibbons released this statement Tuesday afternoon to KSLA News 12, "We are always interested in exploring new opportunities to provide safe, reliable and affordable transportation options in more communities. As part of that effort, we often test ads to measure the viability of uberX in new markets like Shreveport."
Uber's most recent Louisiana expansion was in New Orleans. The NOLA city council voted in early April to allow the ride sharing company. But the council put in regulations, saying they must make sure drivers have insurance and submit to random drug tests.
Shreveport-Bossier native Courtney Gaston has never heard of the app called Uber.
"Yeah, I didn't even know it was a thing," said Gaston.
Uber is like grabbing a taxi, but instead of hailing a cab, you use the app to get a ride, usually from a driver using their own car and instead of paying the driver with cash, you pay online beforehand.
"That is really cool," she said in response to the Uber explanation.
Gaston says another transportation option is needed in this area.
"I feel like there is more need than there is availability right now," she said. "I really do think if there was a reliable way to get downtown and back, we would have more people coming downtown."
Philip Maxfield is the manager of iShuttle, a company that also uses a mobile app, but to arrange group transportation.
"We are not so much like Uber, other than the digital component," Maxfield explained he has been doing research looking into Uber and he isn't the only one. "I know our city leaders are working on it, they've been talking with Uber."
Maxfield says city leaders have also been getting input from the transportation industry.
"I honestly don't think Uber's business model will fit Shreveport," he said.
"Uber is going to have to understand they are going to have to play by the rules and go by the ordinances and get licenses and property insured operators, independent contractors as well," he added.
Maxfield warns there's more to being an Uber driver than just signing up.
"Once you use your personal vehicle, as a commercial enterprise, you have to have commercial class insurance and that is astronomically high," he explained.
He says he has given a lot of thought to what may happen if Uber launches here.
"It's all about professionalism, who provides the best footing, will get the business," he said.
Gaston doesn't believe Uber would hurt the taxi industry.
"I think Uber would get a completely different customer than the people using taxis now," she said.
We reached out to Shreveport city council chairman Jeff Everson, who says Uber has not contacted him.
City of Shreveport spokesman Africa Price tells KSLA News 12, Mayor Ollie Tyler has not spoken to anyone with the company.