Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Uber launches Bozeman service

Uber users can officially request a ride in Bozeman starting Thursday, more than six months after the company was approved to operate in Montana. 

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines is set to be the first Uber passenger in Bozeman on Thursday night after a planned speech at Plonk on Main Street at 6 p.m. State Rep. Daniel Zolnikov, an early proponent of Senate Bill 396 — which paved the way for Uber through a revision of the state’s motor carrier laws — will be Daines’ driver.

After the ride, Uber officials will turn on service in the area, allowing drivers and riders to use the app. 

Bozeman is the fourth stop in the company’s week-long launch, following similar events in Missoula, Great Falls, Helena and Butte. Uber is scheduled to launch in Billings on Friday.

“It’s been a long time coming, so I’m glad it’s finally here,” Zolnikov said. “It’s going to benefit tourism and people, but hopefully also DUIs. There has never been a solution (for DUIs), but now there is one.”

Founded in 2009, Uber allows smartphone users to request a ride through a mobile app, and pairs them with registered drivers, who then provide rides with their own cars. 

At least 100 Gallatin Valley residents have signed up to drive for the company. 

“We’ve seen tremendous interest across Gallatin County and throughout that entire area,” said Uber Montana General Manager Brian Gebhardt. “We hope it will solve a real need for safe rides in the state and provide a flexible income opportunity for drivers to be their own boss.” 

As part of the launch, Bozeman users will receive seven free rides between Thursday and next Friday, according to the company’s website.