Mobile City Council was suppose to take up a measure on Tuesday aimed at allowing ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft to be fully operational within its city limits. The vote, however, was pushed back a week.
Sources tell Alabama Today, though, that the delay shouldn’t be seen as a major setback because most council members are expected to support the most recent proposals.
The proposed changes to the city’s ordinances likely will be seen as favorable to both ride-sharing operations and traditional taxi cabs. It’s a model intended to keeping the playing field level by easing some restrictions on cab companies while allowing ride-sharing companies to come in while still maintaining high standards for riders in both operations.
It’s a big turning point for Alabama. A move by Mobile to allow such services puts it leaps and bounds ahead of cities still holding out and fighting on behalf of a dated system reling only on the cab industry, such as Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Auburn.
There have been growing pains in the regulatory side since Mayor Sandy Stimpson of Mobile welcomed Uber to town in June, but again the city’s efforts are commendable. In a news release at the time, Uber stated, “We want to thank Mayor Stimpson for his leadership and vision in bringing innovative transportation options to Mobile. Uber couldn’t be more honored to connect Southern Alabama residents and visitors with safe, reliable and affordable rides.”
Al.Com later reported that city council members took issue with the legality of Uber operating, a point that prompted Colby Cooper, the mayor’s chief of staff, to email council members, “The reality is we are dealing with a scenario where technology is outpacing regulations, and is creating a lot of gray areas for municipalities across the country.”
All signs point to a city council responsive to its residents’ needs and opening the door for business. Here’s hoping others follow suit. We’ll keep you posted.
(Looking back, check out Will Lochamy‘s guest editorial highlighting some of the benefits of Uber and busting some of the common myths here.)