Where is my Uber? Some Central Illinoisans question if Uber is still servicing the area

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Some residents have expressed how hard it has been lately to catch an Uber ride in Peoria.

Some residents open the Uber app only to see that no cars are available in the area. This can be frustrating for some people because Uber is designed to be at your doorstep in minutes, at half the price of a taxi.

Uber brands itself as being quick, cheap, and reliable, but some ride-share users like Stevon Hamilton said the app hasn’t been living up to his expectations.

“It (Uber) kind of became a way of life, like using a bus,” Hamilton said. “But now, when you are trying to get an Uber last minute or trying to get to work, and nothing is popping up. It becomes difficult.”

Hamilton said he noticed drivers decreasing in Peoria since September, everytime he opens the app it shows there are no drivers available.

Last month Uber said it is having a driver shortage in Peoria, but it could be related to several issues like the pandemic and winter weather.

Seth Wineland has been an Uber driver for five years. He confirms Uber is still servicing the area, but you might have to wait hours to catch a ride.

“There are a lot of times when I drive a night it seems like I am the only driver out, it’s crazy,” Wineland said. “I’ve never seen it be so busy, and I am by myself.”

He tells WMBD drivers have been reluctant to accept rides because Uber has decreased their base pay rate by more than $1.00. He said the pay isn’t enough to entice some drivers to go to work.

“We are taking all the risk, say somebody does get in your car with COVID, you are taking that chance. You are taking your life into your own hands,” Wineland said.

Ride-share users aren’t the only ones noticing Uber’s drop-off locally. Tony McEnroe is the owner of Five-Star Taxi and Livery. He said in January, he had more than 1,700 missed calls– all asking for a ride because they could not get an Uber.

He claims the driver shortage stems from outdated cars.

Uber’s website shows all Uber drivers in Peoria must have a car that is 11 years-old or newer.

“Every year in January and February we get dozens of calls, this year we got 10 times as many calls. Most of them deactivated Uber drivers that have decided they wanted to become cab drivers,” McEnroe said.

Hamilton said if you need an Uber you can’t do a last-minute request. He said if you schedule a ride at least 10 minutes in advance, an Uber will come to your location.

WMBD reached out to an Uber’s spokesperson today to see if they have deactivated any Uber drivers this year because their car was outdated, but they have not responded.

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