Uber may return to TuscaloosaBy Maddy Ard | 02/18/2016 2:33pm
The agreement between Uber and the city of Tuscaloosa may be coming up soon, according to Mayor Walt Maddox. Wikimedia Commons
On Jan. 14, Maddox tweeted that discussions between Uber and the city of Tuscaloosa have made significant progress, and an agreement between the two is soon possible.
In 2014, Uber, an app-based, nation-wide private transportation company, began operating without a business license in Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa Police then issued citations to several Uber drivers for operating illegally, and during an undercover investigation, police found an Uber driver in possession of marijuana and alcohol while operating a vehicle.
Following the subsequent arrest, Uber was forced to leave the city of Tuscaloosa.
In several other parts of the country, Uber drivers have been involved in assault, DUI, kidnapping, robbery and sexual harassment cases. Incidents have also occurred where individuals posing as Uber drivers have committed similar offenses.
Some Tuscaloosa residents, like Rhonda Moore, a past employee of The University of Alabama, are wary of Uber’s possible return in light of the company’s questionable history. She worries for the safety of students who will likely use Uber as transportation to and from bars and parties.
“Having had a child [attend The University of Alabama], I’d be concerned about the integrity of these drivers,” she said. “You can have all the background checks in the world, but they won’t stop bad people from doing bad things.”
The new compromise between Uber and Tuscaloosa will require Uber drivers to give their names and fingerprints to TPD. Drivers must also allow their cars to be inspected by a licensed mechanic. Unlike Moore, some residents trust that regular inspections and background checks will be enough to ensure customers’ safety and peace of mind.
“I don’t want my wife hopping in a car with just anyone,” Tuscaloosa native Dave Crombie said. “But as long as vehicles and drivers are inspected and everyone knows they are safe, I think Uber will get plenty of business here in Tuscaloosa.”
Students think after Uber undergoes the security revamp, it would be a better alternative mode of transportation than what the University has to offer.
“I think if Uber goes through with all the new requirements placed on them, I’d be fine with using them,” said Donielle Eslick, a junior majoring in political science. “I don’t really go out much, but if there was a situation where I couldn’t drive or get to my car, I think I’d trust Uber over University transportation services.”
Out-of-state students who have Uber in their hometowns really feel the absence of this service.
“I use Uber back home religiously,” said Burke Abercrombie, a Houston native and a sophomore majoring in business. “It helps me get around when I go home without a car, and when I need to get to or from bars at night. It’s cheap, reliable and a great way to avoid drinking and driving.”
Many young people, and not just students, anxiously await Uber’s return, viewing it as a safe alternative to driving under the influence and a dependable mode of transportation.
“Last night my friends and I went out, and our night would’ve been a lot easier and cheaper if Uber was still operating in Tuscaloosa,” said Danielle Noland, a 25-year-old city of Tuscaloosa employee. “Uber is faster, cheaper and it would help cut back on drinking and driving issues.”
Maddox has not made clear when or if a final agreement will be met, but according to the Birmingham Business Journal, a decision on the conflict could be coming up this month.