For The Long Haul: Uber Launches Freight Service In Central Ohio

Aug 7, 2017

Uber has upended the taxi cab business with its ride sharing model that lets average people double as a delivery service. Now it’s trying to do the same with the shipping industry.

The Uber Freight app was unveiled late last year and started linking drivers with customers in May. Last week, Uber Freight announced it was starting service between Columbus and Chicago.

“In particular, it links businesses with truck drivers,” says Eric Berdinis, an Uber Freight developer who helped create the Uber Freight app. “We do those large loads from factories or warehouses.”

He says Uber Freight uses demand-based pay, so driver wages go up if there’s a lot of need for their service, much like the “surge pricing” model employed by Uber’s ride sharing app.

Berdinis says the freight app also gives drivers more control over which jobs they want to accept.

“So if they’re driving to Chicago to drop off a load, then they can search for loads coming out of Chicago to make sure that they’re constantly running their truck," he says.

Unlike its first app, Berdinis says the freight app hasn’t been controversial. Uber saw worldwide protests from taxi drivers who saw Uber as unregulated, cheaper competition.

“The truck drivers that we’re working with, they’re still doing the same job that they did before,” Berdinis says. “It’s actually taking the drivers that are already out there and making their business run more efficiently.”

The foray into freight means Uber is invested in ride sharing, shipping, and self-driving vehicles. When asked what’s next, Berdinis says he doesn’t know.

“Uber’s mission is to make transportation as reliable as running water," Berdinis says. "Turn on the faucet and get transportation”