Experienced Uber driver one of few to offer rides in Ottumwa

Christopher West scrolls through his driving app in Ottumwa Monday/KTVO

Ottumwa residents can now request a ride from Uber.

On Jan. 9, Uber announced it will be expanding services across the state of Iowa.

Prior to last week, the ride sharing service was only available in Iowa's major cities, including Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.

Christopher West, who moved to southeast Iowa in 2016, is one of the first Uber drivers to start offering rides in Ottumwa since Wednesday's launch.

"I think Ottumwa needs it,” he said. “Once bar close comes, people need a safe ride home."

West said he started driving for Uber in Kansas about three years ago.

"I love it,” West said. “I prefer to work the drunk hours when people are excited, having fun. So I would probably work until about 3 or 4 in the morning.”

Right now, West said business in Ottumwa is slow. He believes more people will start using the app if and when more drivers come on board.

“People will try to get an Uber, but may not get one just because we don't have enough drivers," West said. "(It's) me and maybe one other person. But if I'm working my other job, then I can't be online. But definitely on the weekend, they'll be able to catch me."

Indian Hills student Elijah Boesch said he's heard of the app, but hasn't used it yet.

"'s a good idea,” Boesch said. “It's a safe way to get around, and plus, it has locals who drive, so you know they know where they're going."

Hotel Ottumwa partner and owner, Tim Schwartz, said Monday was the first he'd heard of Uber's statewide launch. Schwartz tells KTVO it's good news, especially for his customers.

"To be able to have another choice, I think is a really great thing to have," Schwartz said. "I didn't realize it was happening, so we'll make sure that we let people know and I think it'll be something they'll use for sure."

CLICK HERE to learn more about becoming an Uber driver.

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