The Oxford Board of Alderman discussed the Safe Ride Home initiative for Uber, Lyft and other vehicles for hire – an initiative they proposed in April – at their meeting on Tuesday. The initiative is designed to create two designated pickup areas for these vehicles in an attempt to reduce congestion, create a foot traffic focused downtown area and provide safer pickup for riders within the downtown area.
The City Parking Garage and 14th Street were chosen for being well lit, secure areas spacious enough to accommodate a queue of vehicles. Currently, Uber has agreed to participate in this program and will now require all riders within the downtown area to be picked up at one of the two locations.
The ordinance would require all vehicles for hire to use the designated areas between the hours of 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. seven days a week. The designated locations will be determined by the Oxford Police Department and approved by the Board of Alderman. The locations will be clearly marked and have room for at least three vehicles to create a queue. The Board of Alderman reserves the right to change the location, remove a location and extend or reduce the hours.
Drivers said that they’re worried about how this initiative will affect their business if passed and voiced their concerns at the Board of Alderman meeting.
“This would hurt the taxi owners. We don’t have the technology with the app and things like that. So the farther you move us, how are we going to do business? We depend on these small groups, especially with the upcoming football season,” Alfonso Jordan, the owner of Zoe’s Taxi said.
Jordan requested that there be designated spots on the Square for taxi companies.
“(The taxi companies) have been following the rules. It is the Uber drivers who are blocking traffic. They don’t live here so they don’t care. They will pick up wherever,” he said.
Other local taxi drivers voiced their concerns that when people leave the bars, they’ll be too drunk to walk to the designated pickup locations. Taxi drivers in Oxford face numerous rules and regulations, such as including cameras in their vehicles, while Uber drivers operate with little to no regulation.
Mayor Robyn Tannehill responded to these concerns, saying there was not much she could do on her end to help with regulating Uber drivers.
“We’d give anything to be able to have the authority to police Uber, but we simply can’t,” Tannehill said. “We believe it is safer to be lined up in a well-lit area that has cameras.”
The Board of Alderman will vote on the initiative in two weeks at their next meeting.