Local Business

Published on September 25th, 2014 | by Newt Rayburn

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Oxford Alderman Jay Hughes Speaks Out About Uber and “Drivers For Hire”

Oxford, Mississippi Alderman Jay Hughes is speaking out against the ride sharing/delivery company Uber, which is fast taking over taxi services across America and Oxford.

Uber is valued at $18.2 Billion dollars, and even recently hired President Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe to help break what it calls the “Taxi Cartel” in the United States, by litigating “antiquated taxi laws.” Uber-logo

The company is very successful and consumers are flocking to use Uber’s services across America.

In fact, Uber is now generating more money in San Francisco than the entire taxi industry there.

Uber is fast expanding, and they are going into the delivery business, too, competing with FedEx and UPS. 

As Oxford rapidly expands in population and swells with tens of thousands of tourists each weekend, Uber is poised to be successful here.

Alderman Hughes recently drafted Oxford’s new taxi ordinance this past summer, but as The Local Voice noted before the law was passed, Hughes’ taxi ordinance did not address new companies like Uber, and a similar successful company, Lyft.

Alderman Hughes sent out an email this morning to The Local Voice that addressed the conflict between this private business and the City of Oxford:

 

“I have had a couple of inquires as a result of a full-page advertisement in The Daily Mississippian in which Uber is seeking “drivers” in Oxford. The ad seemingly represents that the only requirements to be a “driver for hire” in Oxford is to have a valid drivers license and personal automobile insurance. 

This is not accurate and it is important to make sure people understand what the requirements are in order to be a driver for hire in Oxford.

I personally think Uber is an excellent concept and welcome it to Oxford. 

However, as for the drivers, there are very specific insurance and safety requirements in Oxford and Mississippi that have been enacted to protect drivers and passengers in vehicles for hire.  These deal with background checks, insurance and security cameras. 

Every local company is complying with these requirements.  Some of our local operators are working folks for whom this is their only source of income, and they may only own a single taxi. 

Less than two weeks after the new ordinances went into effect, Uber drivers appeared without meeting any of the legal requirements, and putting its drivers at an unfair advantage over the law-abiding drivers and operators in our town. 

This also exposes passengers to the risk of an accident with no insurance coverage, and drivers without proper background checks.

Most personal auto insurance policies specifically reject coverage when the driver is operating the vehicle for a fee.  This is why Oxford specifically requires insurance with “Taxi” or “For Hire” coverage.  It is a totally different policy from personal insurance, and done to protect the passengers.

Oxford, Mississippi Ward 1 Alderman Jay Hughes. Photograph by Newt Rayburn - The Local Voice.

Oxford, Mississippi Ward 1 Alderman Jay Hughes. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – The Local Voice.

The laws Oxford adopted are about fairness and safety.  Oxford will vigorously enforce its laws and charge any driver operating without the proper permit, taxi decal and insurance requirements. 

 

 A few of the Oxford Vehicle for Hire ordinance requirements are generally as follows:

–          Each vehicle insured $100,000-$300,000-$100,000 (Sec 118-20(a))

–          Proof of insurance sent to City Clerk’s office

–          Each driver and company must fill out application and submit to City Clerk’s office for approval by Mayor and Board of Aldermen

–          Driver must always carry city issued license – cost is $50.00 (Section 118-25)

–          Driver must possess a Class D License and have a valid state driver’s license

–          Adhere to maximum fares (Section 118-25)

–          Each vehicle for hire must be clean, have a State of MS inspection sticker, must have a company logo and a city issued medallion with license number on the side (Section 118-26)

–          All taxicabs must be equipped with safety camera system. (Section 118-32)

–          All taxicabs must be inspected by OPD prior to use. (Section 118-32)

 

Jay Hughes
Ward 1 Alderman
JayHughesForWard1@gmail.com”

 

The City of Oxford has already been ticketing Uber drivers and are threatening to arrest them, too, but the company says, “Uber vigorously defends the rights of our driver partners, and will cover the costs of unjust citations.”

At this point, it may be inevitable that the City of Oxford and Uber will end up in court.

The question is, does the City of Oxford have the resources to litigate against a company that has $18.2 Billion?

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About the Author

Newt Rayburn founded THE LOCAL VOICE in 2006.

Previously, Newt was Editor of PROFANE EXISTENCE in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Art Director for Ole Miss’ LIVING BLUES magazine. Newt won a National Magazine Award in 1999 for his SOUTHERN MUSIC ISSUE with THE OXFORD AMERICAN.

A seventh-generation Lafayette County, Mississippian, Newt is perhaps best known as the leader of the Mississippi RocknRoll band THE COOTERS, but he also has the Country & Southern Rock group, HAWGWASH.

Newt is a Photographer, Writer, and Civil War Enthusiast.



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