Uber to Alabama lawmakers: don’t adjourn without one set of ridesharing rules

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With no ridesharing-friendly bills signed into law this year and just days left in the legislative session, Uber is making a final plea to state lawmakers to pass one clear set of rules that will bring ridesharing to the entire Yellowhammer State.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Uber Alabama General Manager Luke Marklin urged Alabama lawmakers to follow in the footsteps of more than 40 other states across the country, and pass a statewide framework for ridesharing before adjourning this legislative session.

“Alabama’s lawmakers should not leave town this week without sending a bill to Governor Ivey that brings Uber’s reliable rides and flexible work opportunities to everyone in the state with one clear set of rules,” said Marklin. “Forty-two states—and counting—have passed statewide ridesharing frameworks, and letting this session end without a law in Alabama will leave Alabama’s residents and tourists behind. If cities continue to have varying rules for ridesharing, it will hurt thousands of drivers’ ability to earn money and prevent people from a getting a ride when they need it most.”

Currently ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft can only operate in select cities throughout the state,  and are governed by agreements with each individual city. Which is why, earlier this month, the state House of Representatives passed HB283, which endeavors to provide uniformity of laws governing transportation network companies by ensuring companies, drivers, and insurance requirements are governed solely by Alabama State Law. However, a last minute amendment that was added to the bill, is complicating its future. Instead of allowing the law to apply statewide, HB283 would now only apply to cities and unincorporated areas of the county that do not currently have ridesharing services, should it be signed into law.

“A last-minute provision added to the legislation will continue Alabama’s patchwork of conflicting regulations and create more confusion for riders and drivers,” said Uber spokesperson Evangeline George.

On Wednesday, the state Senate is expected to consider an alternative bill, which has the full support of Uber. SB271 creates one single set of rules for ridesharing that Uber believes “Alabama needs.”

According to Uber, nearly 2,000 Uber riders and driver-partners in Alabama have written their representatives and senators about why Uber is important to them and should be available throughout the state.

“I am an Uber driver with over 2,000 rides under my belt, and I can tell you that the majority of my riders state how much they love Uber,” said Tonja, an Uber drive-partner from Mobile. “The convenience of being there to pick them up within minutes, the cost of a ride, and friendly drivers are a godsend to them. Uber has lowered the number of DUI arrests in this country and abroad. It has given drivers the freedom to work on a schedule that best suits their lifestyle, which has opened up an entrepreneurship that helps families and individuals everywhere.”

Leaders from across the state are echoing Ubers pleas to legislators, urging them to pass a statewide framework for ridesharing in Alabama this session:

Dr. John R. Drew, Senior Vice Chancellor, Troy University: “While Alabama’s large cities have passed ridesharing regulations, it will be impossible for the service to come to small cities like Troy without a statewide law. Continuing Alabama’s patchwork of conflicting regulations will only foster confusion and hamper our ability to get the rides we deserve. We need one set of ridesharing rules to ensure Troy University students can count on Uber for rides to and from Montgomery, Auburn, and anywhere else in the state they choose to visit.”

Eufaula Mayor Jack B. Tibbs Jr.: “In Eufaula, providing for the safety and security of the citizens of our community is a top priority. Ridesharing has proven to have a significant impact on public safety in communities across our country, which is why I urge you to pass one clear set of rules for ridesharing in Alabama that would allow companies like Uber to operate statewide.”

William J. Canary, President and CEO, Business Council of Alabama: “Alabama is building a reputation around the globe for being open and welcoming to technological innovation and entrepreneurialism exampled by the influx of high-tech jobs to regions across our state. HB 283 will help Alabama to continue moving in this direction and is a commonsense approach that benefits consumers, businesses, the entrepreneurs who work with TNCs, and local governments.”

J.T. Griffin, Chief Government Affairs Officers at Mothers Against Drunk Driving: “MADD knows that Alabama is currently considering legislation, HB 283, which would provide for a consistent, clear regulatory mechanism that would allow rideshare companies to operate statewide. Rideshare has the ability to help provide new alternatives to take drunk drivers off the road and help protect our communities. MADD would urge you to consider the lifesaving potential of rideshare technology as you consider this legislation.”

Joy Harris, President of the National Federation of the Blind’s Alabama Chapter: “As President of the National Federation of the Blind of Alabama, I support the passage of HB 283, which would permit ridesharing services to operate throughout the state with appropriate regulation. We strongly support the expansion of these services throughout the state. Provision of ridesharing in underserved areas would explode the number of transportation options available to blind residents. It would allow the blind to independently order their own transportation and free anyone who was reluctant to provide it from that task.”

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