Transportation Committee Meeting Recap

On Monday, December 18th, the Transportation Committee of the Birmingham City Council held its regularly scheduled meeting.

Here’s the video from the meeting:

And here’s a recap of what was discussed:

Proposed Statewide Legislation Regulation Transportation Network Companies

There is currently a proposed bill that will be presented to the Alabama State Legislature next year that would impact the way Transportation Network Companies (TNCs)(like Uber and Lyft) do business in the state. According to the proposed bill, TNCs would be charged with collecting a “local assessment fee” equal to 1% of the gross trip fare for all rides that originate within the state. That fee would then be remitted to the Public Service Commission (PSC), as the regulator. The PSC would then be required to remit to municipalities not less than 50% of the of fees for rides that originate within that municipality.

Rates of Fare

TNCs currently operate in the City of Birmingham without much regulation of their fare. During peak times (like New Years Eve, or after a big event), TNCs often “surge” their rates because of the increased demand. Taxi cabs are far more regulated, and have caps for their rates. There is currently discussion about amending this Ordinance to remove the set fare amount for taxis. According to Transportation Committee Chair, Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, this action would put traditional taxi cabs and TNCs on more level playing field, and would allow the two business models to compete without the government giving unfair advantage to one over the other.

Sec. 12–16–8. — Rates of fare.

(a) Taxicab rates. No owner or driver of a taxicab shall charge a greater sum for the use of a taxicab than in accordance with the following rates as adjusted under subsection “c” of this section:

(1) $3.00 for the first one-fourth-mile or fraction thereof, and $0.25 for each additional one-eighth-mile or fraction thereof.

a. There shall be a charge for waiting on the basis of $24.00 per hour, after the first five minutes.

Additionally, Councilor O’Quinn has expressed interested in striking the line about the $24.00/hour charge for waiting on a taxi.

The portion of the General Code of the City of Birmingham that would be affected and amended can be found here: https://library.municode.com/al/birmingham/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PT1THCOGEOR_TIT12LIRE_CH16TAVEHI
(Title 12, “Licensing and Regulations,” Chapter 16, “Taxicabs and Vehicles for Hire,” Section 8 “Rates of Fare”)

Drinking on Pedal Buses

There was also a presentation by Mike Fliegel and Julie Barnard of the City’s Law Department about a proposed Ordinance to Amend Title 12, “Licensing and Regulations,” Chapter 16, “Taxicabs and Vehicles for Hire,” Section 93 “Pedal Bus Service”.

Essentially, the Ordinance would allow riders on these pedal buses to consume alcohol while on board. When the pedal buses were originally allowed by the City, the Law Department wanted to see how they’d operate without alcohol, and if they’d impede the flow of traffic since they only go upwards of 12mph. The Law Department feels like the pedal buses are ready to take the next step and allow the pedal buses peddlers (not the driver) to enjoy beer and wine on their jaunts through town.

Here’s the full language of the proposed Ordinance:

An Ordinance to amend Title 12, “Licensing and Regulations”, Chapter 16, “Taxicabs and Vehicles for Hire”, of the General Code of the City of Birmingham, 1980, to amend Article H, “Pedal Bus Service”, Section 12–16–93, to allow the passengers of a pedal bus to possess and consume alcoholic beverages.

SECTION 1. BE IT ORDAINED by the Council of the City of Birmingham that Title 12, “Licensing and Regulations”, Chapter 16, “Taxicabs and Vehicles for Hire”, Article H, “Pedal Bus Service”, Section 12–16–93, be and hereby is amended to read as follows:

12–16–93

“(a) Passengers on a pedal bus may consume alcoholic beverages, subject to the following:

Passengers may bring only beer or wine in unopened, non-breakable, individual serving containers on board the pedal bus for consumption while on the vehicle. No glass containers shall be allowed on board a pedal bus in any case.

While within a designated entertainment district of the city, a passenger may possess and consume a beverage purchased from an authorized licensee within the district in compliance with the city’s entertainment district ordinance.

Alcoholic beverages shall not be removed from a pedal bus and consumed along the route unless it is within a designated entertainment district of the city.

It shall be unlawful for a pedal bus service or its drivers to sell, serve or dispense alcoholic beverages unless a valid license has been obtained from the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board with the approval of the city council.

It shall be unlawful for the driver/operator of any pedal bus to consume alcoholic beverages while driving or operating a pedal bus.

“(b) The provisions of Sec. 12–10–9, “Drinking in public”, of this code shall not apply to passengers consuming alcoholic beverages in compliance with subsection (a) of this section.

SECTION 2. That the provisions of this Ordinance are hereby declared to be severable. If any of these sections, provisions, sentences, clauses phrases, or parts are held to be unconstitutional or void, the remainder shall continue in full force and effect.

SECTION 3. That this Ordinance shall become effective upon publication as required by law.

Bus Rapid Transit

Next, Howard Richards of STRADA Professional Services gave the latest in an ongoing series of monthly updates about the Bus Rapid Transit program. We’ve included his full presentation here:

Transit Oriented Development

Finally, Alex Hutchinson of Smart Growth America, and Darrell Howard of STRADA gave an update about Transit Oriented Development in Birmingham. We’ve also included their full presentation here:

TIGER Grant

Finally, the City of Birmingham has applied for another TIGER Grant from the United States Department of Transportation, in order to expand the Bus Rapid Transit System to the Eastern part of Birmingham. The City will hear back about the result of the grant application in Spring 2018.

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