UPDATE: [ March 29, 2016 11:00 p.m]
Monroe city council members pumped the breaks on an ordinance allowing ride sharing services like Uber or Lyft to operate in the city.
Yet, that doesn’t mean the topic wasn’t discussed. Tonight community members and business members voiced their support of the service to the city council.
“You know people can to and from the business, you know whether they had a glass of wine with their meal, or whether they come out and celebrate a birthday and just drink,” one community member said.
“I think it’s a great thing for the citizens of Monroe because it gives people job opportunities,” community member Kirsten Brooks said. “I think it’s good for people who wanna go out and enjoy their time and drink and not necessarily drive and drive home or wait, for a friend, or wait for a cab.”
Representatives from CenturyLink, the largest employer in Louisiana, said they’re behind the council’s efforts. The company’s headquarters are in Monroe.
“We’d easily make the case for this service,” CenturyLink Spokesperson Carrick Inabnett said. “They’re hundreds of employees we’re recruiting and dozens of vendors we fly into Monroe on a daily basis that call on us and IBM.”
The Mayor’s office continues to demand further vetting of the ride-share services, like it’s impact on local businesses and surrounding cities.
You may have heard the term ‘Uber’ or ‘Lyft’.
If not, they’re both ride sharing services offering users in cities from New York City to New Orleans a car ride, with just the tap of your finger.
One place Uber isn’t available is in the Twin Cities.
This could change after Tuesday night’s city council meeting, when members will vote on a proposed ordinance, allowing companies, such as Uber, to operate in the area.
“From what we know it’s very popular throughout the United States,” Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said. “It has some upsides to it, but it also has some downsides to it, but it’s also something brand new.”
Locals said they look forward to the savings Uber could offer.
“I used Uber a lot when I was in New York in February and it was very helpful and convenient, and a lot easier than getting a taxi,” local driver Kamille Sparks said.
However, Mayor Mayo said more research needs to be completed on the companies before being brought to Monroe.
“We’re asking the council to remove this from the agenda until we can properly vet this,” he said.
The ordinance would require background checks to screen out drivers convicted of sex offenses or other serious crimes.
It also would include service charges for rides beginning at the airport or within Monroe city limits.
“My concern in just a nutshell is how much resources would it take for the police department to assist with this,” Chief Quentin Holmes with the Monroe Police Department said. “We don’t know if it will be five drivers or 5,000.”
Other concerns include consideration for taxi services in the city.
“We have a number of them every time one is added there’s always some complaints from them because they say we have too many and we over saturate,” Mayor Mayo said.
“If we put too many vehicles out there at one time, what happens is the drivers can’t make enough money to make a living,” CEO of Twin City Yellow Cab Eddie Walker said.
While this plan may take a pit stop, some community members hope these services will one day make their way to the Ark-La-Miss.
“All big cities should have Uber or Lyft because it adds another mode of transportation and people want to go out have a good time and get home safely,” local driver Andrew Roberts said. “That’s really important.”