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Steve Novotney Says, "Want Uber? Here's How."

It's a fun slogan to chant – "38 is Great!"

An Uber official already has explained to Wheeling officials that the city does not possess the population density the company requires.

But why stop there?

Attempts were made to include Moundsville, but there was some confusion over that conversation, and I've not much more. It's my opinion, though, that these folks were on the right track and should stop with the folks in Moundsville. I believe the conversation needs to expand to every municipality from Marshall County to Jefferson County, Ohio.

Powhattan Point. Shadyside. Bellaire. Bridgeport. St. Clairsville. Martins Ferry. Yorkville. Tiltonsville. Rayland. Brilliant. Mingo Junction. Steubenville.

Weirton. Follansbee. Wellsburg. Beach Bottom. Wheeling. Benwood. McMechen. Glen Dale. Moundsville.

Some may believe a drive from Wheeling to Steubenville might be a long trip for an Uber driver, but the trek is nine miles shorter than it is from downtown Pittsburgh to the Pittsburgh International Airport.

And Uber representatives may take that cruise many times per day. Are Uber drivers permitted to cross state lines?

They do it daily along the East Coast while transporting people from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and from New Jersey to New York, so why not West Virginia to Ohio and vice versa?

But is it needed in the Upper Ohio Valley?

For decades, the Wheeling area has been serviced by undependable taxi companies. Shoot, far too many times they even fail to show up. The public bus service on both sides of the Ohio River, to make matters worse, fails to offer transportation that is applicable to today's Valley.

And have you ever noticed how many DUI offenses are issued around here?

Uber service also would create additional commerce because of the added accessibility to public transportation. Knowing they have a safe home, patrons of bar and restaurants would be able to stay longer instead of scampering home before their blood-alcohol content surpassed .08.

"I think all of the local music artists would see the crowds of people stay out longer, and that would be great for the musicians in this area," said Jeff Tappe, known as, "Smokedaddy" in the Wheeling area. "When people realized that driving drunk not only is a stupid thing to do but that it costs you if you get arrested, all of the musicians saw a dip in attendance. There was a lull in the music scene around here because the bar owners started depending more on juke boxes because it was cheaper than bands, and they weren't making their money back.

"These days I play a lot of Happy Hour gigs because it's earlier, and more people are out during those hours," he continued. "But there has been some improvement in the nighttime crowds the past couple of years probably because people had the designated driver when they go out. But Uber? That, I think, would allow it to go back to the way it was."

The best part? It's this simple:

  • Marshall County – 32,000 citizens
  • Ohio County – 43,500
  • Brooke County – 23,500
  • Jefferson County – 67,800
  • Belmont County – 69,500

That's a total of 236,300 residents living within 20 miles of the city of Wheeling, and that's far more than what live in Kanawha and Monongalia counties, where Uber has operations that center around Charleston and Morgantown. Kanawha County currently boasts a population of 191,000 citizens, and Monongalia has about 102,000.

But one of those counties is the state capital, and the other is the home to the state's largest university?

Yes, but the Wheeling area has colleges and universities, too, in three of those five counties, and the region attracts as many as 5 million tourists each year.

PLUS, if PTT Global opts to construct a cracker plant in Belmont County, this region's population will temporarily swell by several thousand construction workers, and since additional industrial development has followed every petrochemical plant ever constructed in the United States, the permanent population figures in the Upper Ohio Valley will finally reverse the trend that's been evident since the 1940s.

Uber officials care about numbers, and, compared to other areas in West Virginia comforted by the mode of public transportation as an option, it appears this region has the numbers, too.

The problem, it appears, is that they have yet to be presented to Uber officials the correct way.