Uber Finds Success with San Diego County’s Military Population

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An Uber driver leaves Harbor Island. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Nearly two years after launching UberMILITARY, the ride-sharing company is seeing success.

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Uber, which provides easy access to affordable transportation, launched a program in September 2014 to recruit service members, veterans and military spouses as drivers.

The most recent statistics show roughly 4,000 out of the 12,000 drivers in San Diego County fall into that spectrum. Across the company, more than 50,000 service members, veterans and military spouses have signed up to be drivers.

But the program has proven to be more vital in San Diego County. The region is home to the largest concentration of military personnel, including 15,000 active duty service members and 240,000 veterans, according to the SDMAC Military Impact Study.

Brian Hughes, general manager for the San Diego division, said the decision to implement a program catering to military families was a natural one.

“We were observing that our military partners were very well-appreciated by their riders,” Hughes said. “Of course, they are also committed to service. We saw an opportunity to help our military partners with a job that they can access with a tap of a button.”

Hughes, who served in the U.S. Army for five years before joining Uber in 2014, said he can personally relate to the challenges of finding employment while in the military.

“When we moved to Honolulu it was difficult for my wife to find a job,” Hughes said. “We found this program across all military families. When you’re moving every two to three years, it can be really tough for the spouse to find employment. It’s something that often non-military folks take for granted.”

But the problem of finding employment isn’t limited to spouses. It’s also a program for veterans, Hughes said.

“Eventually, everyone has to hang up their uniform at some point,” Hughes said. “Whether they’re going back to school or finding a new job, (the program) gives them immediate work.”

Moving forward, UberMILITARY has announced new initiatives for its program. The company has a goal of ensuring at least $500 million is going to military drivers by 2020, increasing access to reliable transportation for military communities and providing a saving program like discounts.

“My personal goal is to sell this in every city,” Hughes said. “I think it’s very important for us to connect as many people as possible with these opportunities. This is really a humbling experience to serve a community who serves the country so well.”

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