Will Lochamy: An Uber success?

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Can you believe we’ve made it? I mean, it’s a miracle that we’re still here! Think about it … Y2K, quicksand, Zima, the Mayan calendar, and even Uber. We’ve survived, folks!

Chicken Little’s whole “acorn story” was more convincing than Birmingham City Councilor Kim Rafferty’s anti-Uber charade. While supposedly only representing the community, she appeared on a national propaganda video produced by the Taxi, Limousine, and Paratransit Association. Speaking about Uber, Henny Penny… I mean Rafferty, said, “Just because you need a ride, doesn’t mean you have to be abused or taken advantage of.”

It get’s better. She actually said, “We continue to stand before a millennial groundswell that is manipulated and tantalized by shiny, newfangled app gadgetry, convenience, and self-service with no concept of public service and no care for public safety. Social media may be pretty, but it will not serve you well when the battery goes dead.” I’m assuming she thinks we should stop driving cars as well, because, you know … they might run out of gas.

Thank goodness our batteries haven’t died.

We’ve now been using Uber for over seven months in Birmingham. That’s right; the scary, unregulated, bogey man-driven, rideshare service that everyone warned us about. Close your eyes, because here is what people have experienced:

People from 45 different countries have used Uber in Birmingham.

“Since Uber came along, I’ve personally witnessed a complete transformation in the landscape of transportation in Birmingham. Where there are STILL no cabs, we now have Uber. Our customers now have a reliable, affordable, safe option to get around when they make the choice to not drive,” said Cliff Atkins, owner of 41st Street Pub and Rowe’s Avondale. “Uber is a valuable service and safety enhancement to our citizens. There is no other way to see it unless you’re serving some other end.”

Birmingham City Councilor Sheila Tyson said, “We haven’t had any complaints. If they had complaints, trust me, they would blow our phones up.”

“There are no longer lengthy wait times. Also, an added bonus has been the paper trail Uber leaves. Knowing exactly when you rode, who drove you, and the route you took home is extremely helpful to our customers,” said Joseph Hoskin, general manager of Innisfree Irish Pub.

The average wait time for an Uber in Birmingham is four minutes.

“The first six months (with Uber) have been all we had envisioned: creation of jobs, decreased incidents of DUI, and satisfied out-of-town visitors who have more reliable transportation to and from the Birmingham airport. It’s an all-around success story for our city,” said Hoover City Councilor John Lyda.

It took Birmingham 18 long months to get past the red tape. I don’t want to think about the negative things that might have happened during that time without ridesharing. The proof is in the pudding. I stood before an Alabama State House in 2015 that didn’t know what Uber was. There’s no excuse now. Drinking and driving, reliable transportation, and outdated thinking isn’t a just a Birmingham thing. It’s time to take this out of the local municipalities’ hands and pass statewide legislation.

Oh, and thanks to the drivers. You guys and gals have been on your best behavior. Let’s keep it that way. We’d hate for one of you to mess it up for the rest of us.

Will LochamyWill Lochamy is co-host of the radio show, “Oh Brother Radio” on Birmingham Mountain Radio (107.3FM).

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