It’s official: Uber’s presence in Boston is booming. Travis Kalanick, the co-founder and CEO of Uber, was in town on Wednesday to keynote the fifth annual MassChallenge awards, where he told the room of burgeoning entrepreneurs that the ridesharing service is growing faster here than in Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, or Toronto.
Since launching in Boston in 2012, Kalanick said that Uber now has grown to 500,000 active local users. The company has recruited tens of thousands of drivers, which has created 4,000 jobs and helped drop the median wait time for a trip to just 3.1 minutes. “We’re growing faster this year in Boston than we were last year,” Kalanick said. “Right now we’re doing 150,000 hours per week on the system.”
And they’re poised to keep growing exponentially. Kalanick shared that Uber will soon launch UberPool, which will allow users to carpool with other riders who are traveling along similar routes throughout the Greater Boston area. In test trips, the average cost of an UberPool from Kendall Square to the MassChallenge headquarters in the Innovation District was just $8.35. A Boston taxi would have cost a single passenger $21.
Kalanick boasted that their expanded reach in the city has helped cut greenhouse gas emissions and decrease traffic on the roads. He claimed that the service is helping the local economy as well, as one in three Uber trips start or end at a small businesses in Boston. And he said the company is serving areas of the city that have long gone underserved: “In Mattapan, 65 percent of those who request a taxi get a ride in 20 minutes,” Kalanick said. “With Uber it’s 99 percent.”
“Travis is probably one of the greatest entrepreneurs of this century,” said fellow keynote speaker Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman. “Uber is changing our world, changing our lives. It’s literally one of the greatest business ideas of all time.”
“Parking will be easy in the city some point soon,” Kalanick promised as the room erupted in applause. “I look forward to no traffic in Boston.”