Uber moved one step closer to being "legal" in Jackson. The Rules Committee of the Jackson City Council passed an ordinance yesterday allowing Uber and other "transportation-network" companies to operate in Jackson. The ordinance will treat these companies differently than taxi cab companies.
The highlights of the ordinance* are:
*The transportation network company will pay a registration fee of $2,500.
*Drivers must pass background checks and drug tests.
*Vehicles must pass an annual inspection. Fee is $62.50
*Pricing must be transparent. Company must disclose pricing before customer incurs any fees.
*Driver must be 21 years of age
*Driver must possess a regular or commercial driver's license for at least one year prior to application. Driver must submit fingerprints to JPD.
*Driver can't be convicted of DUI, fraud, sexual offenses, acts of violence, or using a vehicle to commit a felony within the last seven years. Drive can't appear on a sex offender registry.
*Driver can not be convicted of at least three moving violations within two years.
*Driver must obtain a medical exam and certification from doctor he can safely operate a vehicle.
*Auto insurance requirement. Proof shall be carried at all times.
*Committee or Chief of Police can suspend permit it notified driver poses a danger to public.
*Penalties. Everyone loves penalties. City fines for company: First offense: $500, Second offense: $1,000, Third offense: $2,000. City fines for driver: $350 for first offense and $500 for each offense thereafter.
The ordinance passed the committee. The city council will discuss the proposed ordinance at the December 15 meeting.
Kingfish note: One thing that was interesting was no representatives of Uber ever appeared at any of the discussions of the "Uber ordinance" by the Rules Committee. Sydney Allen of Butler Snow is the registered lobbyist yet he has been strangely absent from the halls of city hall.
The city still has a taxicab ordinance on the books. To say it is anti-competitive in nature is putting it mildly. It is no wonder that the taxicab companies are fighting any change in anything. Check out some sections of 126:
(a) The following fares shall be charged by taxicabs. The maximum fare shall not exceed $3.00 for the first one-tenth mile or fraction thereof and $3.00 for each additional mile thereafter.
(1) For each additional person who is five years of age or older and who is group riding, the maximum charge of the metered fare shall not exceed $1.00. Provided, however, said maximum shall not exceed $3.00 for trips to/from the Jackson Evers International Airport.
(2) Waiting or delay time shall not exceed $23.00 per hour or a fraction thereof. (KF: not much price competition. City sets the fees.). ....
(a) Limousines, not to exceed $75.00/hour, per vehicle. A limousine service may not charge fares based upon fractions of an hour except after the first hour of service.
Those are the fares. The taxicab companies get to have some say on who their competitors can be:
Transportation permit and review committee (committee): A committee comprised of the following city personnel and transportation service industry representatives: two representatives from the department of planning and Development, with one serving as chairperson, one representative from the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority; two representatives from the police department; and, two representatives from the transportation service industry (one from taxicab companies and one from limousine companies, with no one company serving a consecutive year). One representative from the legal department, shall serve on the committee in an advisory capacity. (5 members)Hourly requirements:
A taxicab company shall keep its office staffed 24 hours a day with at least one person for the purpose of receiving calls and dispatching taxicabs.So much for working when you choose. Company has to hire a certain number of employees just to be open a full day. Here is my favorite:
(13) Taxicab companies shall maintain at least eight vehicles for hire under their company name for which a CPNC license has been issued, or the number of vehicles operated by the company as of the effective date of these articles, if less than eight.
Can't get a license unless you have at least eight cabs. DC Cab, anyone? Suppose a guy works as a cab driver for ten years. He saves his money. His family gives him more money and he can buy his own cab. Tough luck. He needs to buy seven more. It is a law that protects the few as there are only five companies licenses to do operate taxis in Jackson. No wonder one owner was protesting any changes in the law. Sweet deal is a sweet deal. She gets a regulated price. She gets to decide who her competition can be. She also benefits from a law that makes it very hard for someone to enter the business.
The current law hurts minorities and the poor. It prevents price competition and prevents them from opening their own companies. Uber has democratized the process. It is hard to feel sorry for the favored five when they have worked so hard for so long to enjoy a monopoly. However, city council members told this correspondent they recognize the flaws in the taxicab ordinance and are going to change it.
One other thing. There is a reason there is no Uber debate in the burbs: They don't require licenses for taxi services.
*New code section will be Section 126.501-510 in the Jackson municipal code.