AUBURN, Ala.-The transportation network company Uber is now officially back on the Plains.
The transportation network company announced they were coming to Auburn back in late 2014, but the city says the left in early 2015 due to regulatory issues that did not meet their business model.
Since then, Auburn and other cities have worked with their ordinances to match the company and cities needs.
Now, Uber is in charge of the background checks and the city has the authority to audit them to make sure the background checks are done properly. In addition, drivers were originally all supposed to be licensed by the city, but now the company is licensed by the city and they can contract their drivers.
Director of Public Affairs for the city, David Dorton said: “This entire process has been about what people told us they want. Residents, students, the Auburn University administration have all made it very clear that they wanted us to enable Uber to operate. They felt like the safety of having Uber as an alternative to driving when you shouldn’t outweighed some of the other safety concerns talked about.”
One of Auburn SGA President Jesse Westerhouse’ platform points was to bring a company like Uber back to the area. After he used the Uber app, he and Councilman Gene Dulaney were given the first ride.
“It’s really exciting to see that come together and come through,” Westerhouse said. “It’s been awesome to work alongside the university, university officials, the City of Auburn. They saw the importance with having a safety option for students. When students and community members are empowered to more options, they are going to make better decisions that can save lives.”
Though many are excited for the future of Uber in Auburn, many are not.
Jeff Steiger is the owner of KGM Taxis. The company has been in Auburn since February 2012.
He looks at Uber from a competitive standpoint. He says they do not have the same costs as Uber, and they can not cover the same costs on the same fare. Steiger says the cabs get nearly 15 hours of business a week, and it they lose business, maintenance and insurance costs may be an issue.
“You gotta make the dollars and cents to pay the bills,” Steiger said. “If you lose 50% of your business to Uber, and spread that across to all the other taxis in Auburn, paying your bills won’t be possible.”