‘Uber' App For Ride-Sharing Expected In Nashville By January
by Todd Walker
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An upscale option for getting a ride in Nashville appears to be headed for the green light.
The app known as "Uber" launched on a small scale in Nashville, Wednesday. UberX is a ride-sharing service similar to Lyft, which also plans to begin operating in Nashville soon.
Cab companies are worried about their business if Uber's full, luxury car service rolls into town.
There are still a few hurdles standing in the way of UberBLACK launching In Music City. Over the next couple of weeks those will likely be gone, too.
City ordinance currently requires black-car drivers to charge a minimum of $45 for any ride, no matter the distance, inside Davidson County.
Next week, the Metro City Council will vote again to throw that ordinance out, mainly because of the demand for Uber in the city.
Jeni Williams is the transportation manager for Metro Livery, one of the many companies which stands to see a boom in business if Uber is allowed to begin operation.
"We have been cheering from the sidelines," Williams said. "We've been using Uber for about a year as we travel all across the United States and we've been eagerly waiting for them to enter the Nashville market place."
Rachel Holt is a regional manager for Uber, and will oversee its Nashville operations.
"One of the things that makes us really excited about Nashville is we've seen literally tens of thousands of people who are opening their app monthly, weekly trying to see ‘Hey is Uber in Nashville yet?'" Holt said in a phone interview.
Cab companies are not thrilled to see Uber rolling onto its turf.
Uber is an app that partners with already existing limo companies, so Uber itself isn't subject to the often lengthy licensing process.
"It took us almost two years to get up and running," said Melinda Grant in an interview last month. "We had to get our permits through the Transportation Licensing Commission."
Uber says it will be up and running in days if the $45-per-ride minimum is thrown out.
Limo companies say this is about leveling the playing field and getting rid of unneeded regulations.
"This allows the end-user to be picked up in a taxi if that's what they want," Williams said. "If they want to be picked up in a black car then they should have that option available to them."
There has been a lot of support shown for companies like Uber by city leaders.
The Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau said today it supports "100 percent" the idea of reducing the $45 minimum and "bringing Nashville's access to transportation into the 21st Century."
Next week, the ordinance change goes before Metro City Council for its second reading.
There will be a third and final vote shortly after the New Year.
Uber says its black-car service will be up and running within days after that.
Students in the Academy of Energy and Power at Maplewood are busy getting ready for next week's Project Expo and had the opportunity to show it off some of their projects to Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper.