SIOUX CITY | Uber, a popular ride-hailing service, will drive into the Sioux City transportation market on March 31.

"Our operations team is in crunch mode getting things up and running," Charity Jackson, an Uber public affairs associate, said Monday. 

The San Francisco-based company uses an internet-based application to pair people looking for a ride with drivers who are independently contracted by the service.

"This will bring safe, affordable and reliable transportation to thousands of Sioux City residents while at the same time creating flexible earning opportunities for hundreds of additional Iowans in the region over the next year,” Carla Jacobs, spokesperson for Uber Iowa, said in a press release Tuesday.

All pickup requests are blindly matched based on the closest available driver. Uber customers can use a phone map to track where the car is proceeding to get them. After the trip, both riders and drivers rate each other on a 1-to-5 scale so Uber officials can monitor the experience. All costs for the trip are automatically charged to the payment method on file to the rider's account. 

Uber currently operates in the Quad-Cities, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Des Moines and Ames.

In July, Uber told the Journal the company was waiting to move into Iowa's fourth-largest city sometime after Jan. 1. That is when a state law signed by Gov. Terry Branstad in May now requires ride-hailing companies to be permitted through the Iowa Department of Transportation. Each driver -- for a taxi company and companies like Uber and Lyft -- must undergo background checks and carry $1 million in liability insurance. Companies will also have a $5,000 fee that will go toward Iowa’s Road Use Tax Fund.

The company told the Journal last month they have a goal of being in every zip code in the United States "so Sioux City is on the road map," the Jan. 6 email said. 

Jackson added that the company will also be launching in the Iowa cities of Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Dubuque on March 31 as well.

The company said approved drivers set their own schedule and drive whenever they want, and rates depend on the demand.

Over the next few weeks, Uber will be onboarding local Iowa residents interested in driving for them, the release said. To signup, go to www.uber.com, click "Become A Driver," and then select “Sioux City” to begin the pre-screening process. Each vehicle a driver uses must pass certain minimum qualifications. 

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