City of Tallahassee Passes Uber Ordinance

Courtesy of MGN Online

The City of Tallahassee unanimously passed an ordinance that will allow Uber, a ride-sharing service that operates off of smartphone applications, to operate legally within the city, Wednesday.

This comes after months of discussion between taxi companies, city commissioners and state lawmakers to require Uber drivers to follow the same permit processes and requirements as regular taxi companies.

Tom Villaverde, a driver for Uber since August 2014, said people sometimes have a misconception of the company.

“That’s what people get confused,” said Villaverde. “They think it’s a cab service when it’s an technology app.”

Villaverde explained Uber is a faster and safer way of ride-sharing, stating that the person who requests an Uber will be provided with a name and picture of the driver along with their license plate number.

“With regular taxi services you’re waiting 30-45 minutes and you don’t know who it is,” said Villaverde. “With Uber they will be there in four minutes and it protects the rider because we go through rigorous background checks.”

Villaverde mentioned 90 percent of his business consists of college students and the rest is college student-related, usually dealing with parents coming from out of town.

College students such as Nakeeba Ryan, a junior healthcare management student from Tampa, said she feels like Uber is more convenient for a college student.

“I used to take it home from work when it would be really late,” Ryan said. “I would feel much more safe than getting a taxi.”

Ryan said she wasn’t aware that Uber operated without legal permits but said she still felt safer than using a taxi and they’re more cost-friendly.

“I feel like getting in a car with a licensed stranger is equivalent to getting in the car with friends,” Ryan said. “I would use promo codes which gave me free rides sometimes that saved me about $20 a week.”

Barry Archie, a FAMU alumnus from Pensacola, said that when he was a student, Uber wasn’t around and the taxis were too expensive.

“The best one was a discount taxi that was a flat rate of $12,” Archie said. “Uber cuts an average ride down to five to eight dollars and as a young professional, that’s very helpful towards expenses.”

Archie said Uber is more affordable and accessible while being user friendly for college students.

Archie added that he knew Uber operated without legal permits since he looked into driving for the company.

“I looked into doing it on the side at one point,” Archie said. “But they’re required to have insurance and pass a vehicle and safety background check.”

The vote allowing Uber to operate legally within the city came just days after Uber announced they would pull out of Broward County, due to the regulations.

The ordinance will officially take effect Saturday, August 15.