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A spirit that is not afraid

Five facts to know before Uber returns

Just last week the Auburn City Council approved an ordinance amendment that will pave the way for ride-hailing service Uber, and other services like it, to return to the Loveliest Village on the Plains.

The ordinance amendment is similar in nature to an ordinance passed last month across the state in Tuscaloosa. The ordinance dubs the services as vehicles-for-hire and regulates them in a fashion similar to generic taxi services.

"Since the City of Tuscaloosa is a university town with similar concerns as Auburn, and since they have gone through an extensive, months-long negotiation process to find a solution, this draft ordinance is essentially the Tuscaloosa ordinance added to the framework of our own Vehicle for Hire ordinance," a city memorandum read. "Uber has reviewed this ordinance and our contact has expressed that they are agreeable to this language."

If the comments on our website and our social media accounts are any indicator, one of the main concerns of Auburn residents is the safety and sanity of the men and women who will be driving people around for Uber. Below we've compiled five facts you need to know before Uber returns.

1: Uber will have to perform background checks on all of their drivers

"Not great," one commenter posted on The Plainsman's Facebook. "Taxi licenses require background checks. Uber does not require background checks. Cross your fingers we don't see the rapes and murders other cities have."

Nothing can perfectly prevent violence, and yes, other cities have seen rouge Uber drivers. But under the City of Auburn's new ordinance, Uber will be required to perform background checks on all of their drivers.

And not only are they required to perform the background checks, the city can perform an audit of their background checks up to twice a year.

2: Drivers will have to display proper signage on their vehicles

You won't have to wonder whether or not the car you're getting into is actually an Uber cab, because drivers will be required to display the company logo or name on their vehicle before they can even pick you up.

"All vehicles for hire shall have the words taxi, vehicle for hire, or the name of the company or logo painted, magnetically attached or decaled," the ordinance reads. 

The law also requires Uber to provide the driver's photo and the tag number of their car before they pick you up.

3: They also have to have a vehicle-for-hire license and a city-issued business driving license

Not only must your driver be properly licensed by the state, he or she must also obtain a vehicle-for-hire license and a city-issued business driving license. The driver will be photographed and the license has to be displayed on the rearview mirror of the authorized vehicle-for-hire.

"No such license shall be issued to any person who has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or to any person found by city manager and the chief of police not to be a fit person to be issued such a license," according to the ordinance the Council passed last week.

4: Uber drivers need public liability insurance, and the company will have to pay the city for a permit

Uber will have to obtain a city-issued transportation network company license before they can begin operating within the city. The cost of that license is $5,000 annually. Additionally, the city's ordinance requires all drivers to have business public liability insurance, and drivers must be in accordance with the state's vehicle-for-hire laws passed earlier this year.

5: They could be up and running before the Clemson game

Uber ceased operating in Auburn in January 2015 after providing services here for only a few months in the fall of 2014. After more than a year and a half of no Uber, the service needs about 30 days to hire new drivers and obtain the proper permits, according to city officials. They could be back on the streets, up and running, before the Clemson game on Sept. 3.

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