Uber, the ride-hailing service based out of San Fransisco, is set to launch operations in Huntsville Friday at 4 p.m. Not only will the service be a boon for roving residents, there are already more than 20 jobs listed on www.simplyhired.com.
The company received its business license in the city Thursday and, though a few last minute issues may stall the launch, it is set to begin zipping through town just as workers are heading home for the weekend.
The Huntsville City Council approved a business license last week for Uber affiliate Raiser and last month passed two ordinances to allow Uber and similar services to operate in the city.
“We were very excited to bring Uber here,” said Kelly Schrimsher, communications director for the city of Huntsville. “Uber has become quite the standard for people coming into town.”
Schrimsher noted that Huntsville is an “international city,” which hosts scores of out-of-towners needing to get around. While she noted that it’s “too early to tell” what kind of effect the company will have on jobs or revenue, Schrimsher said it’s an excellent opportunity for people looking to make some extra money.
Schrimsher commented that the city had worked with local taxi companies concerned about Uber’s presence in the city and added that there is nothing stopping local cab companies from offering similar services to consumers in the area.
“It’s about consumer choice,” Schrimsher said. “And we don’t believe the government needs to get in the way of consumer choice.”
Uber has come under scrutiny of late for its business model of employing private contractors to operate its pastiche tax service, which fails to provide health insurance or other benefits. Further, consumers have complained that rates may fluctuate enormously for seemingly short car rides.
Despite that, the company has garnered wild success in cities across the country and may fair well in Alabama’s metropolitan areas, which generally lack adequate taxi services. Uber launched in Birmingham two months ago and in Montgomery January.
“We’re looking forward to having the service here,” Schrimsher said, adding that the city encourages similar operations, like Lyft, to follow suit.
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