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Mayor Battle Seeks Streamlined Regulations for App-Driven Transportation Network Companies

Published on June 11, 2015

The Huntsville City Council will consider new criteria for transportation network companies at tonight’s regularly scheduled meeting. Proposed changes to the City’s vehicle for hire ordinance come after Mayor Tommy Battle asked the City’s transit, legal and police departments to take a look at impediments for TNCs entering the Huntsville market.

“Citizens and business travelers enjoy having transportation options,” said Mayor Battle. “The TNC mobile apps, such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar, offer convenient alternatives for people on the go.”

Huntsville has been looking at how other cities are adapting to changes in the transportation industry with regard to “vehicle for hire” mobile apps. The proposed changes to the City’s ordinance are similar, and often less stringent, to regulations in other cities where TNCs are successfully operating.

“Our vehicle for hire regulations are based upon an existing framework that we have used for years,” said Tommy Brown, Director of Parking and Public Transit. “We’ve looked at the new transportation model, and we recognize where the differences are, where they are the same, and where it is appropriate to streamline our requirements and still provide the level of public safety citizens expect.”

Brown says the proposed changes to the transit ordinance will make it easier to meet licensing and permitting requirements. This includes a one-time $5,000 per year license fee for the TNC instead of a per vehicle license, eliminating the previously required chauffeur’s license, and allowing TNCs to conduct their own background checks and vehicle inspections that meet Huntsville Police Department requirements.

“The TNCs are already covering these criteria, and as long as the City has access to this information, we don’t see any reason to duplicate the process,” said Brown.

Mayor Battle said the changes recognize the uniqueness of the TNC model and adapt city regulations to the technologies. “We’ve eliminated any significant hurdles for these companies to enter our market,” said Mayor Battle. “Huntsville is open for TNC business.”

Huntsville citizens have expressed an interest in welcoming the new companies, and the Mayor agrees. While Uber has been running commercials advertising for drivers in Huntsville, no transportation network company has applied to operate in the city. The Mayor says his door stands open to any new transportation network company that wants to explore business in Huntsville.