DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Des Moines City Council will delay action on a new transportation ordinance. The city statutes are under review due to a new service called Uber which delivers rides to customers via a smart phone app.
City of Des Moines Traffic Engineer, Jennifer McCoy, presented a proposed new city ordinance to allow for Transportation Company Network operations in Des Moines. The transportation company network are new firms which dispatch on a digital platform. The new ordinance was to be taken up December 22. City Manager Scott Sanders said he will most likely schedule a workshop to discuss the ordinance after the holidays. once lawyers gone over it. Then the ordinance can go before a formal council meeting.
McCoy said during public hearings she heard from current taxi operators in the City, who asked that all transportation companies be treated fairly. "We heard from other residents of Des Moines that stood up and said current cab service is lacking, late arrivals, no shows, the cars are dirty,and there's poor customer service," said McCoy.
The new ordinance would spell out liability insurance of $750,000 would be required. Driver background checks going back ten years would be another requirement, and some type of identifying sign on a vehicle while it is in service. The City also looked at how other communities around the nation have sought to regulate this type of transportation.
Mike Triplett, of Triplett Enterprises in Des Moines spoke to the Council representing Uber. "We look at Uber as having two primary audiences, we have our drivers, and we have our riders," said Triplett. He said that drivers and passengers can rate each other via the digital interface. "We want the drivers to be sure that the people they are picking up aren't abusive to the drivers," said Triplett. He said drivers to not want to give rides to people who, "consistently vomit in the cars." He also added, "bad riders are kicked off the system."
Triplett said drivers are also rated. "If drivers play the music too loud, if the car stinks, the riders give the ratings back, then we have a discussion with the driver," said Triplett.
Triplett said "we are not here to promote no regulation, of transportation network companies." He said Uber is looking for sensible regulation, and to talk about a level playing field. "Just as sure as the taxis don't want us to have an advantage, we don't want the taxis to have an advantage."
"I just want you to really demonstrate that willingness to work with the City," said Councilwoman Christine Hensley. "You've come in, and you just did it my way or the highway."
Council members expressed a need for the service in Des Moines, and also some concerns over lack of transparency by Uber. All Council Members agreed the new ordinance should be fair to those who provide transportation service in Des Moines.