Uber officially operating in Pullman

JESSICA ZHOU, Evergreen assistant news editor

After the Pullman City Council voted to reduce background checks, from fingerprint checks to a name-based social security check, Uber officially launched its service the morning of the sold-out USC football game.

This comes after local taxi drivers expressed concerns over the lack of in-person verification of Uber drivers in the past spring. Attempts to bring Uber to Pullman date to as early as fall 2014, when Greg Lew and Tyler Cruz, former students who graduated in 2016 and 2017, respectively, created a Facebook group within the WSU group called “WSU Uber” as part of a technical writing class. The group, now inactive, has about 100 members.

“The main purpose of this page is to gather a strong student following to bring Uber’s taxi services to Pullman,” Lew’s post from Nov. 2014 reads. “Please help us bring Uber to Washington State University and provide students with efficient means of transportation.”

At that time, Lew said Uber denied Pullman as an option because it was “too small of a town.”

Pullman requires taxi drivers to have licenses, though an Uber territory manager has said it is not a taxi service. Under the previous rules, the fingerprint checks Uber drivers would have needed to provide would bring up any criminal arrests, charges and disposition cases in the FBI database.

“The Pullman Police Department welcomes Uber to the Pullman community,” Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said. “We look forward to the increased availability of safe and sober transportation for students, residents and visitors.”

Riders using the promo code “UberPullman” will receive $5 off trips beginning in Pullman, and they can be applied to up to 5 trips for a maximum of $25 in discounts Sept. 29 through Oct. 13.