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Local cab companies upset over Washington University’s decision to use Uber in security plan

UNIVERSITY CITY, MO - Some local cab companies are upset with Washington University after the university partnered with Uber to offer free rides from the main campus following a spate of gun crimes in the area.

Some drivers with the Metropolitan Taxicab Corporation told Fox 2 Tuesday that the university’s decision to choose Uber instead of them is unfair.

Dawit Assefa said being a cab driver is his only livelihood.

He said that within the last couple of years, ever since ride-sharing services came into town, he isn’t making the money he needs, to stay afloat.

“Absolutely it’s affecting me everything in my pocket, my family, everything,” said Assefa, “so, I don’t know how I can explain this.”

“Uber drivers, they have a job, taxi drivers that is their job,” said another driver, Nekaoloo Naasah. They are hurting the people, they are hurting their pocket.”

Some drivers said that while they don’t mind the competition, they’re upset that the university didn’t give local cab companies a chance to offer their services.

“They overlooked and didn’t dig down into facts or didn’t even contact us or didn’t even think about the safety or the real safety of their students,” said Chip Pollard. “These are students from across the country and who knows where else and they jump in a car that’s just a car.”

Owners said that even though taxi companies have been around for decades, they are well aware of staying relevant.

“We have adopted the technology,” said the owner and vice president, Brook Gebru, “we are using the best technology available and second, we are using professionals, our drivers are vetted.”

In a statement to Fox 2 the university said:

“St. Louis is our home. We are committed to being part of efforts to grow the regional economy, support local businesses and entrepreneurs, and to create jobs and opportunity for all. In this case, our focus was on the need to temporarily address a serious safety concern under unusual circumstances, and Uber offered a ready-made business solution that met an immediate, short-term need for our students.”

“We used to take care of this campus for years and years,” said Assefa “and really, to be honest, they are very nice kids’ nice customers for cab drivers but it is what is.”

Gebru said that he and his business partner plan to contact the university in hopes of starting a dialogue to also be given the opportunity of becoming a part of the security plan.