CARBONDALE — In an effort to lure in new car services, this week city leaders unanimously approved an ordinance amending the city code as it relates to local transportation.
The change will allow transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft, which connect passengers with drivers who provide transportation in their personal vehicles, to operate in Carbondale alongside conventional taxis.
At the regular city council meeting Tuesday night, Mayor John “Mike” Henry said he had received complaints about Carbondale’s taxi services from parents of prospective Southern Illinois University students.
“They feel they’re not clean enough, they’re not reliable, (the taxi drivers) don’t show up when they say they’re going to, they pick up other people and put them in the cab with you along the way.
“So I think we need to have some competition, and this will open it and hopefully let this drive the market, and we’ll have much better cab services here, and safer cab services, I believe,” Henry said.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Councilwoman Jessica Bradshaw. “I would love to see those sorts of websites start up here.”
“I’ve used Uber extensively in bigger cities, and the cars have been very nice, they’re very timely and they’re not that expensive, either. So I think it’ll be a good step in the right direction,” said Councilman Navreet Kang.
One local resident raised concerns about background checks of potential Uber or Lyft drivers.
“We have a process in place, and that isn’t changing, so there’s a background check and there’s a number of offenses that would preclude you from having a license in Carbondale,” said City Manager Gary Williams.
The amendment also restructures licensure within Carbondale: the city will no longer provide licenses to taxicab companies, but will instead license individual operators of taxis and TNC vehicles. Additionally, all licensure will be handled by the city manager’s office rather than the city clerk’s.
The change establishes a registry of ASE-certified mechanics to perform annual safety inspections on all taxis and TNC vehicles.
Uber is available in hundreds of cities all over the globe, while Lyft operates strictly within the U.S.