Jefferson City politicians consider permanent Uber expansion

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JEFFERSON CITY- Uber users are riding free today as part of an effort to reduce stress on the capital city's transportation system during the inaugural festivities.

The Jefferson City city council voted to temporarily allow Uber drivers to operate from 7 a.m. this morning until 2 a.m. Tuesday in their meeting last Tuesday.  The vote came during a time where both Jefferson City municipal officials and the Missouri General Assembly are contemplating allowing ride-sharing companies, like Uber, to operate in their respective jurisdictions.  

"We're revising our ordinances," Jefferson City 3rd Ward Councilwoman Erin Wiseman said.  "We need to figure out how we can put everyone on an even playing field and make sure that everybody is also providing the maximum public safety that they can."

Councilwoman Wiseman cited concerns over driver insurance, safety of riders and an "even playing field" for taxi companies who are now competing with the transportation network companies.  She stressed that regulations between the two forms of transportation needed to be equated.

Meanwhile, Representative Kirk Matthews (R-Eureka) has filed a bill in the House that would create a "regulatory platform" for transportation network companies, like Uber, throughout Missouri.  It would allow Uber drivers to operate throughout the state and is going into its first committee meeting tomorrow.  

"It will create opportunities for literally thousands, maybe tens of thousands of Missourians, to start a part time business," Rep. Matthews said. "[They could] begin earning extra money for driving for a transportation network company."

Representative Matthews filed a similar bill last year that passed the house but stalled out in the Senate.

Senator John Rizzo (D-11th District) had previously called for tougher regulations on the companies but was not available to comment.  

Rep. Matthews hopes to have a bill on Governor Greiten's desk in August while Councilwoman Wiseman believes changes to the ordinance could come sometime in February or March.