Will Lochamy: We need Uber

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We need Uber. We need it now. And here’s why.

We have a drinking and driving problem.

The problem is that drunk driving is simply accepted here as part of the routine. When people go out downtown, they drive. Public transportation and rides for hire are rarely reliable and, therefore, an afterthought. We tend to forget that it’s an issue until visitors come to town and point it out, usually in shock.

Cities that welcome ride-sharing see significant drops in DUI deaths even though most already have ample available taxis. This is due to the fact that Uber is generally 20-30% cheaper than traditional taxis and most find it to be much more efficient. It’s the new ride of choice across the country and world.

Can you imagine the change it will bring to the citizens of our community, who don’t exactly have a happy marriage with the cab industry?

Lets not stunt our growth.

Birmingham is seeing a revolution and rise in popularity like never before. This ride-share issue is one of our few, but big, black eyes. People are eager to move here for jobs and school, but the lack of simple accommodations that they can find in competing cities (Nashville, Atlanta, etc.) will keep many out. Investors are watching this, I assure you.

Lets not be the antiquated Birmingham many expect us to still be.

SEC Media Days, Sloss Fest, the SEC Baseball Tournament, the Birmingham Bowl… the list goes on. Our area hosts legitimate events that bring large crowds to town. Let’s keep it that way and look good while we do it. Thanks to social media, the lack of transportation is no longer just our frustration. Visitors are taking to the airwaves and Twitter to express their frustration with not being able to get around Birmingham.

Beyond having to deal with embarrassment, we might have to deal with these events losing support and even moving to other, twenty-first-century-compatible cities.

Its time.

I laugh (only because it beats crying) every time I hear city officials say how much they want Uber, then watch them turn around and speak against it at the state house and write codes that they know good and well will keep Uber from operating here. The time is now, November 2015, for Birmingham to stop this silliness and give the citizens what they want.

Because apparently it’s too hard for our officials to look at any of the specific TNC (ride-sharing) laws passed by over 60 major U.S. cities, Uber has laid out the simple answers for Birmingham’s recently written Transportation Code. I read them. They make perfect sense and are easy to understand, even for a dummy like me.

It’s time. Speak up and let your voice be heard. The people in power are happy to leave us Uberless unless we do something about it.

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

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