Uber may soon serve Alabaster

Published 12:32 pm Friday, February 5, 2016

Alabaster is considering allowing ridesharing companies, such as Uber, to operate in the city. (Contributed)

Alabaster is considering allowing ridesharing companies, such as Uber, to operate in the city. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The Alabaster City Council likely will accept public feedback on allowing ridesharing companies to operate in the city during a late February meeting, council members said during a Feb. 4 work session.

During the work session, council members discussed possibly adding a section to the city’s business license ordinances covering “transportation network companies,” which would cover popular ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

Through such services, customers are able to use a smartphone app to find and schedule rides from drivers authorized to take part in the ridesharing company. Most ridesharing drivers use their personal vehicles to transport riders.

Through the proposed business license amendments, ridesharing companies would pay $500 per year to purchase a license to operate in Alabaster, which is similar to other area cities.

Taxi companies are already covered under Alabaster’s current business license ordinances.

The City Council will introduce the proposed business license changes during its Feb. 8 meeting, and likely will set a public hearing on the matter for its Feb. 22 meeting. Both meetings will begin at 7 p.m. at Alabaster City Hall at 1953 Municipal Way.

If Alabaster agrees to allow ridesharing companies to operate in the city, it will follow Helena and Hoover, both of which have already amended their business license structures to cover the companies. Pelham also is considering allowing ridesharing companies.

As proposed, the Alabaster guidelines would require ridesharing drivers to undergo background checks and hold insurance coverage, among other requirements. Individuals on the National Sex Offender Registry and who have been convicted of certain felonies would be prohibited from driving for ridesharing companies.

“Ours is almost verbatim of what other cities have done,” said Alabaster City Attorney Jeff Brumlow.