“Public transportation is a great option, but sometimes – late at night, or in certain areas – it’s not available or accessible. Uber provides an environmentally friendly option for a safe, reliable ride.”
Meghan Verena Joyce is the Boston/Providence general manager of Uber, the San Francisco-based startup that connects passengers with drivers of luxury vehicles for hire through its innovative mobile app.
Last week, Uber officially launched its new service in the greater Providence area and held a press event at Betaspring in Providence. Joyce spoke to Providence Business News about how Uber’s plans for the Ocean State.
Prior to joining Uber, Meghan worked at the U.S. Treasury, Bain Capital, and Bain & Company. She is a graduate of Harvard Business School and Harvard College.
PBN: Who is Uber’s target clientele?
JOYCE: The exciting thing about Uber is that it appeals to such a wide range of people across the city. We’ve heard from students that use Uber to get a ride home from Thayer Street late into the evening, businesspeople who open their app for an early morning ride to the airport, and parents who request a car to bring their babysitters home after a night out. The need for safe, reliable transportation is pretty universal – and as a result, Uber is, too.
PBN: Uber has expanded its reach to some of the biggest cities in the U.S. and all over the world. What makes Providence a choice market to join the Uber network?
JOYCE: First and foremost, we are thrilled to join a community that values innovation and entrepreneurship. Our event at Betaspring last Thursday really drove this home for us. In addition, the people of Providence have been asking for Uber for a while now. We’ve heard from so many Rhode Islanders that have used Uber while traveling in other cities and wanted the same great experience here at home. As this launch has progressed, we’ve fallen even harder for this city. It’s a place that small enough to feel like family, yet metropolitan enough to foster great culture, art, food, and people. We could not be more excited to be here.
PBN: How is Uber’s tech innovation helping to improve the “taxi” experience?
JOYCE: Uber’s technology brings an unprecedented degree of transparency and accountability to transportation services. Simply open your smart phone, check out the closest driver’s ETA and tap a button to request. Even before pickup, you are given your driver’s name, photo and license plate number so that you can make sure you’re getting in the right car with the right driver. No need to wait outside: watch your driver drive towards you on the map, and receive a text when he or she is arriving. While en route, you can share your ETA through the app, sending loved ones a live map showing when you’ll reach your destination. When you arrive, your fare is charged through the app – no cash required, safer for both rider and driver. You can even split your fare with other riders through the app. We’ll email you a receipt, and if you have any questions or left something in the car, Uber Community Managers are standing by to help. Finally, we actively seek feedback on every ride to ensure exceptional trips every time.
PBN: Is Uber concerned about the environmental impact of more people calling private cars through Uber’s service instead of taking public transportation?
JOYCE: We’re proud that our technology provides a number of green-friendly features. For example, our app allows riders to split their fare among multiple passengers, encouraging carpooling. In addition, Uber launched in Providence with uberX, which allows riders to request smaller, more fuel efficient cars. Public transportation is a great option, but sometimes – late at night, or in certain areas – it’s not available or accessible. Uber provides an environmentally friendly option for a safe, reliable ride.
PBN: Uber at-launch service in Rhode Island appears to cover the greater Providence area from East Greenwich to South Attleboro. Are there plans to later expand Uber’s service zone in Rhode Island?
JOYCE: It is our mission to connect Rhode Islanders to the safest, most reliable transportation providers that this state has to offer. And if Boston is any guide, we will be expanding quickly! We are actively working to expand our reliable coverage area and can’t wait to see where we can take it.