Published on July 8th, 2016 | by Brittain Thompson0
Uber is Back
House Bill 1381 was approved by the Governor on April 4. The bill allowed Uber and other “Transportation Network Companies,” after paying an annual fee of $5,000 to the Department of Insurance, to operate in Mississippi regardless of local regulation. This has caused a split between many officials who see this legislation as giving exception to TNCs that traditional taxi cab operators do not receive.
“I personally believe that municipalities are the better source of regulation for vehicle for hire companies whether they are a traditional vehicle for hire company or a ‘digital rides haring service.’(sic),” said Alderman Robyn Tannehill. “It will certainly be difficult for someone from the State Department of Insurance to have any idea about the behavior of a driver or condition of a vehicle in Oxford.”
The bill also included language strictly prohibiting Uber drivers from stopping for street hails. This simply means the drivers may only give rides to those who use the Uber app.
Since its arrival, the presence of Uber has been a point of conflict for Oxford city officials due to Uber not agreeing to operate under established guidelines.
“Uber approached us about entering the vehicle for hire market in Oxford a few years back,” said Tannehill. “We told them they were welcome to enter the Oxford market under the same set of guidelines applied to every other vehicle for hire company. They were not satisfied with having to follow the same set of guidelines. Their lobbyists were able to use their money and efforts to have our legislature pass a law that sets Uber aside as different.
The city officials will be keeping Uber’s different classification in mind.
“There will be privileges associated with being a registered taxi service in the City of Oxford,” said Tannehill. “Registered taxi companies will be provided with designated parking spots on Jackson Avenue and on Van Buren to allow for easier access to riders and will be allowed access to areas closed to general traffic to pick up riders during football games and special events.”
On July 1st at 4 pm, Uber was once again active in Oxford, MS, this time legally. Thus far the app has only a few active drivers throughout the day.
“Again, we welcome Uber to the market,” said Tannehill. “Our problem has never been with the service being offered but with companies providing the same service not operating under the same set of guidelines. Uber is now operating in Oxford and I feel certain will be very successful.”