Council approves controversial ride-sharing service
BATON ROUGE - There will soon be another form of transportation in the capital city since city leaders approved plans for ride-sharing companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar to hit the streets.
Uber, the only ride-sharing company present at Wednesday's Metro Council meeting, allows people to use an app on their phone to summon a car to them and be driven around like a cab. Riders pay instantly through the app so no cash or plastic exchanges hands in the vehicle.
"We're thrilled... and our plan now is to set up shop and start operating," said Uber General Manager Tom Hayes.
The council passed a number of measures for safety precautions. The ordinance changes were sponsored by Councilmen John Delgado and Ryan Heck and require background checks for drivers and vehicle inspections.
Ride-sharing drivers aren't subject to the same requirements as cab drivers, though. An Uber driver will need their own car, a driver's license and car insurance. But, a cab driver also needs a chauffeur license and commercial insurance policy. Apparent easier rules for companies like Uber have created conflicts.
Wednesday, council members Chauna Banks-Daniel and Scott Wilson were public and forceful with their concerns.
"There are a lot of problems with Uber in other cities," said Banks-Daniel. "I'm very concerned that we may not have the state regulations to make sure that all drivers and passengers are protected."
Wilson was involved in a heated back and forth with Hayes about insurance not covering a driver. Hayes said the insurance does cover the driver, Wilson disagreed.
Uber claims it will have a $1 million umbrella policy to cover all Uber drivers.
"[It is] a supplemental policy that will cover [driver's] beyond their personal insurance while a ride is taking place," said Hayes.
Uber has not been well received in some other cities and face fines for improper licensing.
But, Councilman John Delgado believes bringing ride-sharing companies to Baton Rouge will open up a new industry and lower DWI numbers.
Uber has been advertising in Baton Rouge for the past month. Representatives say they plan to have a testing the service in the next few weeks and be up and running as soon as possible.