City Council members had debated the guidelines for ride sharing services for the past several months. On June 21, a Public Safety Committee passed legislation allowing Uber and Lyft to operate within city limits. All that was left was a full City Council vote at its regular meeting that evening. A unanimous approval of all council members of the vehicle-for-hire ordinance was needed for a vote to be finalized. That did not happen, as District 5 City Council Member Kip Tyner cast a dissenting vote. The final vote was six to one, and a second vote was required. That came at the Council's meeting on June 28, and the legislation passed. Uber services are expected to begin in Tuscaloosa within the next 30 days.
This is actually the second time Uber will operate in Tuscaloosa. Back in 2014, the service left Tuscaloosa after a driver was arrested and charged with marijuana possession and given multiple additional citations.
Back in the spring, Tuscaloosa City Councilman Matt Calderone said the negotiations with Uber were going well, and that the company was willing to cooperate with the City of Tuscaloosa in order to renew business.
“It’s a night and day difference. They refused to pay any type of business license and we couldn’t come to an agreement on insurance, but now they have adequate insurance to protect our citizens and are giving us access to their background checks,” Calderone said.
The City Council approved a Transportation Network Company (TNC) ordinance similar to those passed in other Alabama cities within the last year – including Birmingham, Mountain Brook, Hoover and Homewood. The specific municipal code allows for licensing ride-sharing service drivers, conducting background checks and making certain drivers have adequate insurance coverage.