By Elizabeth Lauten
Currently, ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft operate in only 15 of the larger cities across the state —Auburn, Birmingham, Daphne, Gardendale, Gulf Shores, Homewood, Hoover, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Mountain Brook, Pelham, Tuscaloosa, Trussville and Vestavia Hills — but due to a lack of comprehensive, statewide regulations aren’t able to operate in all parts of the state.
Which is what Mountain Brooks-Republican State Rep. David Faulkner and Greensboro-Democratic State Sen. Bobby Singleton hope to remedy this legislative session. They’re soon introducing a bill that would create a ridesharing network across the state for companies like Uber and Lyft, and place it under the control of the Alabama Public Service Commission.
On Thursday, the pair was joined by Gov. Kay Ivey on the steps of the State House where they discussed plans for the bipartisan, statewide ridesharing legislation. They were also joined by the “Ride for Alabama” coalition, formed by supporters of the bill. More than 30 local rideshare drivers were also in attendance.
“To embrace the future, Alabama must accommodate modern transportation demands. The ability to request an on-demand ride is no longer considered a perk of being in a big city, it is an expectation no matter where one lives or work,” Ivey at the press conference. “Having consistent rules statewide for ridesharing is the sensible way to give Alabamians access to safe, consistent and efficient transportation options.”
Alabama is one of only six states that lacks statewide ridesharing regulations. If passed, the bill would allow Alabamians from not only the larger cities, but also suburban and rural communities across the state to take advantage of all benefits the ridesharing industry produces.
“Alabama has the opportunity to make the best decision for the state’s future with regard to a statewide ridesharing framework, as the passage of this bill would provide citizens from one corner to the other with the opportunity for safe and reliable transportation,” said Faulkner.
“Ridesharing creates transportation options for those with low incomes, the elderly, and people with disabilities,” added Singleton. “By increasing overall transportation access for all of Alabama, we are also creating new economic opportunities for our state.”
Ride for Alabama is made up of multiple Chambers of Commerce and third-party entities, such as Birmingham Urban League, Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, the Alabama Black Chamber of Commerce, Young Alabama and the Alabama Association for the Deaf, Inc., among others.
“Embracing innovative and forward-thinking technology platforms like Lyft and Uber will continue to move Alabama forward,” said Deon Gordon, Ride for Alabama coalition member and president, TechBirmingham. “The time has come for Alabama to become the 45th state to expand these vital transportation options to all.”