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For Uber Bad Ideas, Look No Further than Birmingham’s City Council

  |   By: Dave Folk     |   Opinion

Uber is a ride-sharing mobile application that matches up people seeking rides, with drivers. Uber is incredibly popular in cities that it operates in. Uber is not coming to Birmingham (probably).

It’s not because Uber doesn’t want to be in Birmingham. No, Uber has foresight and sees a growing market… It’s because the Birmingham City Council has once-again positioned itself between Birmingham and progress. The Transportation and Communication Committee of the Birmingham City Council, headed up by Councilor Kim Rafferty, is recommending an ordinance that would regulate ride-sharing services like UberX.

While not outright banning UberX, councilors like Kim Rafferty and Jonathan Austin have made it clear that they are against the service setting up in the Magic City. Why? Because these are not smart people we are dealing with.

Well that, and the aforementioned geniuses tend to be against anything what is new and could help Birmingham.


The Case for Uber

It’s actually a simple one and only contains two parts. Firstly, transportation in Birmingham is awful and the current companies are horrendous. Most importantly though, Uber could make our lives safer and bring more money downtown. On to the first point.

The current cab companies that operate in Birmingham are so bad at what they do that calling them a transportation service would be a very liberal usage of what it means to transport something. Try calling for a cab right now anywhere in Birmingham. If you wait less than thirty minutes I’ll put you on my back and take you there myself next time.

Once, I called to schedule a cab to go from Cahaba Heights to the Loft district at 7:30 p.m. The company told me it would be anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. That is cable company level efficiency right there. I would have felt more at ease if they had told me: “We could pick you up, or you could go screw yourself. It’ll either be one or the other.” That concludes my argument as to why cab companies in Birmingham are terrible things.

So if they are so awful why should we bring in another? Well for starters, UberX probably won’t suck. The company is just run better than traditional cab companies that tend to view their drivers as indentured servants and pay them as such. People usually have good reviews for the service and it has become popular in part because of that reputation.

Better transportation in Birmingham will ultimately drive (puns) more people to move downtown, which will inject more money into the area, which will attract more businesses into downtown, which will result in more tax money for the city.

Better and cheaper late night transportation in Birmingham will convince more people from the surrounding areas to seek libations downtown. Which will bring in more money to local businesses and will also make the roads safer as less people feel the need to drunkenly drive.


Raffle Off Rafferty!

Well that sure does sound swell. A company could come in to fill a need, and it could result in more tax money for the city government. So, why aren’t we doing it? Because the city council hates Birmingham. That is quite possibly the only explanation for it.

Kim Rafferty, Birmingham Alabama Councilwoman

Kim Rafferty is the chair of a committee that is utterly failing in Birmingham. One of the biggest digs on the city is that we have no working system of transportation. It’s something that will probably contribute to us losing out on hosting big events. Why should a couple thousand people come to Birmingham for a convention/event when the public transportation is a joke and the private transportation services emulate that? Those are some sweet restaurants we have downtown, good luck getting to them without your car.

It’s time two things happen. One, our councilors start working to fix the problems in Birmingham, not put themselves in between us and the future. And, two; we start to care enough to get rid of the ones who are exceptionally bad, like Kim Rafferty.

Follow Dave on Twitter at @davefolk

Dave Folk is a yankee transplant living in Birmingham, Alabama.