Auburn city council discusses Uber and transit-for-hire ordinance

Auburn city council discusses Uber and transit-for-hire ordinance

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - For months, owners of taxi companies around Lee County have approached the Auburn City Council about Uber drivers in the area.

They are concerned the app-based transit service is not adhering to the same requirements they have.

"We cannot sit back and let our livelihoods diminish and allow these folks to do business without licenses and all the appropriate requirements that we have as taxi owners," explained a representative for the taxi companies at a meeting last month.

On Tuesday, the council discussed and later tabled an ordinance that would amend the city code so all vehicles for hire are placed under the same rules.

"It very much clarified anyone that is picking up someone else for a ride around town is a vehicle-for-hire and if you're driving one of these cars you need to come in a get a business license from the city," City Manager Charlie Duggan said.

"I never had the impression from Uber that I was doing something that was not legal," says part-time Uber driver, Ann Wittnebel.

She says Uber did a background check, checked her driving record, her license, as well as proof of registration and insurance.

"I had the assurance from Uber that I was legal to drive. I only became aware there was tension or a possible change to the ordinance when I was contacted by Uber (Tuesday)," Wittnebel said.

At the meeting, a representative from Uber addressed the council and said their requirement of having a commercial insurance policy is too restrictive.

"We've been in contact with them today. We've asked Uber for a copy of their policy and we are treating them like any other business. We'd like them to come to Auburn, but they just need to play by the same rules," explains Duggan.

Wittnebel is not planning on driving until the issue is settled, hopefully at the next council meeting on Jan. 6, 2015.

"I'm excited about the company and I want to continue to drive with the company," says Wittnebel, "But certainly not at the risk of getting anyone in trouble."

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