Jefferson City regulates ridesharing

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JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City is trying to avoid any clashes with ridesharing companies. Ridesharing companies use cell phone apps to match independent drivers with people looking for rides, and all money is exchanged through the company. 

On Monday, the Jefferson City Council passed an ordinance that will regulate ridesharing services like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and Haxi.

Under the new ordinance, these services will be classified as vehicles for hire, which places them into the same category as other taxicab businesses.

City Counselor Drew Hilpert said the purpose is to clarify ridesharing services as vehicles for hire. The ordinance does not prohibit Uber's operation in the area or discourage it. 

"It neither made it harder or easier for them to be in Jefferson City. I think it just let everybody know that if they came they would just be treated like other vehicles for hire," he said. 

While Uber does not currently operate in Jefferson City, the goal is to have established guidelines for these companies should they choose to expand their services into the Jefferson City area.

"The concern I had is they would start operating here thinking well the definition doesn't quite fit us, so we thought it'd be better to let them know ahead of time...that they'll need to go though the same things that every other vehicle for hire does," Hilpert said.

According to the ordinance, amending the code could help Jefferson City avoid some of the problems the Columbia experienced with ridesharing companies. 

Drivers for these companies are independent contractors, which means they do not have to go through background checks or any other regulations.

The ordinance says some of the public's most common concerns about these services include failure to have adequate insurance, driver's licenses and training.

Under Jefferson City's regulations these companies would have to obtain a permit, issue driver background checks and clearly mark their vehicles.