Cab companies upset over Uber's arrival in Bell County

Posted at 9:27 PM, Jul 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-02 22:27:43-04

The controversial ride sharing service Uber started operations in Killeen on Thursday.

Local cab companies say they are worried their new neighbor will bring more competion and less customers through their doors.

Kevin Grimme, Luxury Cab CEO, has been operating his company in Killeen for over 5 years.

He said he spends thousands of dollars annually to make sure his 9 taxis and over 30 drivers are up to par with city and state regulations.

"Having somebody come in who doesn't have to abide by the same guidelines and pay for the same permitting and insurance and all of the overhead that we require because of the regulations you know," Grimme said. "It brings some concern."

Uber does not have as strict of regulations because it does not fall under the city ordinance for taxicabs. 

The company runs cemprehensive background checks and drivers are required to have a valid license, insurance, and registration.

Uber is a smartphone app that allows users to click a button which will send an alert to the nearest driver. 

Rider's can see the drivers information, picture, and the car that will pick them up. Once they reach their destination, Riders are billed through their phone.

Army NCO Fred Brown previously signed up to be a driver and was disappointed to find out it hadn't reached Killeen. But, three weeks ago, he got the call that Uber was coming to town.

He says it's a quick and easy way to get the extra money he needs for his hobbies. Brown says Uber can increase their fee during busy times, which is something most cab companies don't do. 

"I know they worry," Brown said. "It's just, they got some time before Uber becomes something that's going to be sucking up all their business but taxi drivers have always found a way to stay relevant while there's more of them and their easily more recognizable than me in my little Volkswagen."

Brown says Uber is easier to access but cab companies have been around longer and can still benefit from the clientele they have built.

"I hope that customers that we've grown to accommodate over the years will stay faithful to us," Grimme said. "You know we do have a fixed rate so they don't have to worry about a 5 dollar fare turning into a 25 dollar fare." 

Uber Rider's can enter the code KILLEENFREE into the app to receive free rides in the Killeen area from July 2-9.