Uber, Lyft and other ride-share programs are growing in popularity around the country, but they remain scarce in Alabama. Hoover council member John Lyda went to Montgomery on Wednesday, April 29, to share his support for a bill making it easier for these companies to operate in the state.
State House Bill 509, sponsored by Vestavia Hills state representative Jack Williams, would allow transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber to operate throughout the state under the supervision of the state’s Public Service Commission. Currently, taxis and other paid travel services are regulated by their cities.
Lyda said cities like Hoover could pass their own ordinances about TNCs, but it would be difficult to coordinate these ordinances so that these companies could operate across city lines. He pointed out that there are 37 distinct municipalities in Jefferson County alone.
“I think it’s something that the Birmingham metro area is starving for,” Lyda said.
This was Lyda’s first time speaking in front of a state legislative committee and he noted there were passionate speakers on both sides of the issue. One of his main points to the committee was Birmingham’s relative lack of sidewalks and public transit connecting the city and surrounding areas.
“I tried to communicate that the Birmingham metro area will never top the list of America’s most walkable cities,” Lyda said. “We rely heavily on for-hire transportation.”
Lyda described himself as a “dedicated Uber user” when he travels outside the state. He hopes the bill will be brought back before the state committee at its session next Wednesday, May 6. If it receives a favorable vote, the bill will be brought before the Alabama House of Representatives, and Lyda said he would like to see the bill passed during the current legislative session.