New ride-sharing program arrives in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids

WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A new ride-share service launched this morning in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids.

Uber X allows passengers to download an app and request a ride.

A driver--in his or her personal car--will then pick you up and take you to your destination.

But just how safe is the program?

Newschannel 3 talked to a few people in Kalamazoo on Thursday who say they're not quite ready to hop in.

It's a model we've all seen before: you request a ride and car shows up; but it's not a typical taxi service.

Uber X actually isn't registered as a taxi service, and the drivers pick you up in their personal vehicles.

Open the app, request a ride, and someone will come pick you up.

Thursday morning, Uber rolled out its ride-share service in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Flint.

But just how safe is it to jump in a car with a stranger?

"I guess I would be apprehensive because I don't know if I could trust the person or not, but maybe if I was in a really desperate situation, I would try it," said resident Ashley Carpenter.

Last month, two Uber drivers in California were accused of kidnapping and assault.

The company says it can't comment on pending issues, but says that passenger safety is the number one priority.

"Customer safety is definitely our highest priority; that's why we have background checks and insurance requirements that are stricter than pretty much any taxi company does--so we take allegations like that very seriously," a spokesperson said.

Uber won't say how many drivers they've signed up in Kalamazoo, but we tried to get a car for hours on Thursday, with no luck.

"We have been bringing on drivers for some time now; we definitely need more, but we have some drivers who are ready to go now," the spokesperson said.

But even if they can get a car, some aren't so sure they're ready to jump in.

"It sound skind of risky, but overall, it definitely could be worthwhile," said Kyle Fevig. "Most of the people here are pretty nice, so I would trust it."

Others admitted while they wouldn't try it personally, they thought others might.

Uber also requires drivers be at least 21 years old, and their vehicle must be at least a mid-size 4-door, in excellent condition.