Email insights: Birmingham’s guide to Uber ridesharing

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San Francisco-based ridesharing company Uber has dominated headlines across the Yellowhammer state in 2015. Earlier this year Mobile welcomed the company to the city, meanwhile Birmingham has continued to give the Uber the run-around citing regulatory problems and concerns.

Two and a half months ago Uber executives travelled to the Birmingham to meet with the city’s Committee of the Whole to discuss the potential for ridesharing companies to operate in the city. While the discussions seemed hopeful, little progress has been made in moving forward and Alabamians across the city are growing frustrated.

However, these regulatory problems problems are nothing new to the ridesharing juggernaut and as such they’ve released a guide to to ridesharing to help answer questions and alleviate the concerns of Magic City residents.

For Uber’s 101 guide to ridesharing in Birmingham, check out the email below.

Ridesharing has only been around for a couple of years, and is very different than a taxi, a bus, or really any other transportation option out there. For instance, Uber’s ridesharing driver-partners use their personal vehicles to provide rides on their own schedules. In the U.S., 50% of Uber driver-partners, on average, drive fewer than 10 hours a week and 61% of driver-partners have full-time or part-time careers outside of Uber.

Birmingham needs new rules that reflect the ridesharing model, particularly when it comes to three areas—background checks, insurance, and permitting—so that we can offer the same Uber experience riders have in places like Nashville and Atlanta. Check out how these three areas work in cities and states around the U.S., and how they need to work in Birmingham in order for Uber to operate.

BACKGROUND CHECKS

At Uber, our technology makes it possible to focus on safety before, during, and after a ride in ways that other transportation options cannot. While safety is more than just background checks, we believe that the process used by Uber stacks up well against the alternatives in terms of safety, and enables drivers to quickly and efficiently get on the road.

All driver-partners wanting to use the Uber platform are required to undergo an extensive background check performed on our behalf by third parties accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. These providers use a process for Uber that is similar to that provided to other companies like Care.com, Starbucks, UPS, and Amazon. Going back 7 years, our vendors run a social security trace and then a background check to search for the person in a series of national, state, and local databases. These include the National Sex Offender Registry, National Criminal Search, and several different databases used to flag suspected terrorists.

INSURANCE

While accidents will occur in any transportation option, Uber ensures there is end to end insurance coverage in place for ridesharing trips.

Uber has a commercial insurance policy that covers every ridesharing trip in the United States up to $1,000,000. So if an accident occurs while a rider is in an Uber on a trip, our insurance policy will cover personal injury and damage to property. This policy kicks in before any personal auto coverage that a ridesharing driver has and is double the amount of insurance required of taxis in Birmingham. Separately, if a driver is waiting for a ride request with the Uber app on and gets in an accident, we have an insurance policy that exceeds state minimums should the driver’s personal insurance not cover it.

Do you love insurance and want to read our Alabama insurance policy? Take a look!

PERMITTING REQUIREMENTS

Around the country, ridesharing rules include a permitting process for the ridesharing company, like Uber, instead of for individual drivers. This process ensures a ridesharing company registers with the city or state and pays a fee to operate there, and that riders can get a reliable ride when they need one.

Unlike taxi drivers, ridesharing drivers mostly use Uber part-time and for supplemental income. An individual driver permit may not be worth the cost or time for many Uber driver-partners. The process would disincentivize many drivers from partnering with Uber and make it more difficult for them to get on the road. For instance, those who have a 9-5 job and want to just use Uber on the weekends or to pay for a summer vacation would have to take off work to get this permit and may instead find a different opportunity. That means riders won’t be able to get an Uber when they need one, anytime or anywhere.

Now that you’re ridesharing savvy, share your thoughts on these issues by submitting a public comment with the city. Remember, they are due November 13!

If you’ve still got questions about the ridesharing business model, tweet @Uber_Alabama or reach out to support@uber.com.

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