CARTHAGE, Texas (KSLA) — During an unseasonably warm February day, Carthage resident Natasha Smith gets into her car and shifts her day into gear.
“Just helping the community out, that’s all I really want to do,” she said during an interview in the city’s downtown square. “I just love being there for people.”
Smith and her family moved to Carthage in October. Her husband, a local doctor, tipped her off on something his patients were — or were not — doing.
“His patients weren’t able to make it to their appointments. They were not able to go in and get the prescriptions they were needing.”
The issue? A lack of readily available transportation.
“I saw the need for it and thought, 'Wow, this would be great, this would be great for Carthage,” Smith mentioned as she drove through the area.
The need? Uber, the popular ride-sharing service, which continues to blossom around the world.
“At first, I didn’t get many calls,” she noted.
But that quickly changed.
“The calls started coming in. I started getting emails, text messages, [people] contacting me through Facebook.”
Tommie Ritter Smith, president of the Panola County Chamber of Commerce, said Uber’s arrival in East Texas is a welcome advancement.
“I think Uber will be a very nice asset in the community. We have needed something like this for a long time; it’s been years since we even had a taxi.”
Right now, Smith said, there are three drivers in Carthage and another six working to hit the streets.
“We’re also trying to do Uber Eats and Door Dash so we can take meals to people at work or who just don’t want to leave home,” Smith said.
Smith, a part-time EMT, said she is often “online” and available for pickups when needed by people throughout the community.