City council decides on city ride-sharing regulations

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COLUMBIA - A looming city council decision Monday leaves city ride services polarized.

If passed, the proposed regulations would classify companies like Uber as "Transportation Network Services." Such services would then have different operating guidelines, including:

  • Requiring Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) to provide proof of detailed background checks on all Transportation Network Operators (TNOs), along with vehicle condition/inspections.
  • Requiring TNCs to provide sufficient insurance
  • Establishing a $70 annual permit fee for each ride-sharing services driver.

Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine told KOMU 8 News the regulations aim to ensure public safety.

"We have to figure out a way to make sure that any person that actually utilizes this service is treated in a safe, competent, fair and professional manner," St. Romaine said.

Taxi Terry's owner Angie Nickerson said the regulations should be equivalent to traditional taxi cab services.

"I'm not really thrilled they just have to show proof of background checks when we have to go through the city," Nickerson said. "If they're going to allow them to operate they need to run their stuff just like we do."

Ryan Rams has driven for Uber since its launch in October.  Rams said the regulations are a "happy medium" between accomodating innovative businesses and protecting existing companies.

"There are regulations that you have to set in place regardless of the scenario," Rams said. "I think that's perfectly fine because number one it's putting more money into Columbia as a city and two it's guaranteeing that this person knows what they're doing."

Another Uber driver, who asked to remain anonymous, said the city's elected officials needs to keep up with new types of businesses.

"I'm a big believer that as a whole, regulations are good and necessary," the spokesperson said. "If a new company is blowing open a new field, they shouldn't necessarily have to wait a long time for the government's regulatory policies to catch up."

If the council agrees to these regulations, St. Romaine said it would be in effect immediately.