Huntsville inches closer to more welcoming environment for mobile app transportation companies

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- City leaders say they have been listening to what the public wants -- transportation network companies including Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar.

"The public is asking for other transportation options," said Tommy Brown, Director of Parking and Transportation in Huntsville.

At Thursday's city council meeting, the council introduced a new ordinance change that would provide more streamlined requirements for these TNC's, he said, adding it would update the old ordinances that don't take these mobile-driven companies into account.

"[These are] newer providers. The technology is new. And what we're doing is we are adjusting our ordinances to recognize that new technology to recognize that business model."

Proposed changes to the city’s "vehicle for hire" ordinance come after Mayor Tommy Battle asked the city’s transit, legal and police departments to take a look at what challenges these TNC's are up against as they look at Huntsville.

Brown said these changes include a one time permit fee for the companies, which weeds out tedious things they would have to do as the ordinance stands right now.  This makes it easier for the companies to meet licensing and permit requirements, he said, and also creates procedures for background checks and vehicle inspections that go through the Huntsville Police Department guidelines.

"Public safety is a paramount concern," said Brown. "This makes it easier while also providing for [that.]"

“Citizens and business travelers enjoy having transportation options,” said Mayor Tommy Battle in a news release. “The TNC mobile apps, such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar, offer convenient alternatives for people on the go."

Mayor Battle added in the release that this ordinance would open Huntsville to these companies, creating a better environment for them to exist here.

“We’ve eliminated any significant hurdles for these companies to enter our market,” said Mayor Battle. “Huntsville is open for TNC business.”