Birmingham City Council wants Uber! Well... kinda... but not really.


After claiming for months that the Council was trying to attract Uber, and more than 8 weeks after the Council said they would release a draft bill, we finally have one. released the proposed draft yesterday, and you can find the text of the proposal below:

Birmingham's updated Transportation and Communications Code

My Take

Ladies and gentlemen, it should come as no surprise that this is the same protectionist, fear-mongering you've come to expect from the Council. The bill is still terrible. Here's a tl:dr version of my objections to the current draft:

§ 12-16-4 Signage requirement: Door labels with company name, serial number. Internal placards with Driver’s License, USDOT Medical Card, Driver Permit. CPNC sticker in window.

-5 Each car must carry $500k commercial liability insurance. Unclear if a company’s umbrella policy would suffice. (Probably wouldn’t)

-8 Minimum rates: $3 for first 1/4 mile, $0.25 for each 1/8 mile after that. Why is this necessary? No surge pricing. All rates must be disclosed to Chief of Police within 5 days before change.

-9 Certificate of Public Need and Convenience (CPNC) required before business license issued. Clear restraint of trade.

-11 CPNC costs $100 for the application. Chief of Police processes, then sends to the City Counsel for approval. Good luck getting one of these in any timely manner

-12 No more than 500 CPNCs can be issued in any year. No single company can have more than 49% of the total CPNCs in the City. Gotta protect those cab companies, after all. CPNC costs $200 a year, in addition to business license.

-22 Must have CPNC and license to operate in City, or else you will be fined or your car impounded. Just because you have CPNC and license does not mean that you’ll be able to pick up at BHM Airport.

-23 Must keep all vehicles in the same place. Can’t keep your personal vehicle in your own driveway if you drive for Uber.

-27 Can’t be more than 8 years old. Plenty of taxis are late 90’s models. Will it apply to them?

-31 Each driver must undergo a Federal medical screening and be listed on the FMCSA National Registry

-32 Must wear a uniform. No t-shirts or shorts. No piercings except one earring in each ear.

-49 Signage requirement: Lost Property

-50 Penalties: Basically $500 fine

-51 Signage requirement: Driver’s License, USDOT Medical Card, Driver Permit

All told, if you want to drive for Uber, you're looking at lots of paperwork, weeks of waiting, and even if you get approved, about $500 a year for licenses to simply drive your car around on weekends to earn a little cash on the side. At that rate, some people might consider it even worth it to risk getting caught and paying the $500 penalty instead of going through the compliance steps. And maybe that's what the Council wants: if we make this difficult enough, maybe no one will jump through our hoops.

What do you think of the bill? Is it everything you had hoped for? Join the discussion in the comments below, or tweet at me @thewatsonfirm #BirminghamNeedsUber