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Jefferson City City Council okays Uber ordinance for inauguration, free rides to be given

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. —  Uber will officially be providing free services for Missouri’s Inauguration Day on Monday, January 9th.  Local residents, visitors, and Missourians taking part in inaugural activities will be able to take free rides from Uber drivers in Jefferson City.  Rides will be available from 7 a.m. Monday until 2 a.m. Tuesday.

“Uber could not be more excited to be a part of the Inauguration Day experience and to bring ride-sharing to Missouri’s state capital for free for the day,” Andy Hung, general manager for Uber, said.  “We are eager to showcase to Jefferson City residents and visitors alike how they can push a button on their smartphone and get a ride on-demand within minutes.  While many are familiar with ride-sharing, we know some will be trying Uber for the first time, and this will be an opportunity to discover the ease and convenience of our services.”

The news comes just days after the Jefferson City City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to grant a one-day license to transportation networking companies hoping to operate within city limits during Gov.-elect Eric Greitens’ inauguration next week.

With the typical number of people in Jefferson City expected to increase drastically, city council members, city officials and even local aspiring politician Leonard Steinman were on hand to support a measure pushed by Uber that would grant the one day license.

Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said the policy would show a “positive, pro-active approach to welcoming Gov.-elect Eric Greitens and new and returning legislators.”

“We welcome bringing this new service,” she said.

Rep. Travis Fitzwater testifies before the Jefferson City Council on Uber.
Rep. Travis Fitzwater testifies before the Jefferson City Council on Uber Jan. 3, 2017. (Travis Zimpfer/THE MISSOURI TIMES)

Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit, testified on the bill’s behalf. He represents a small portion of Jefferson City

“Many, many constituents have come to me that want access to ridesharing programs,” Fitzwater said. “To make sure people can get around this city safely Jan. 9, I think, is a terrific idea.”

Other Uber supporters also spoke on the measure. Becky Lohmann, a lobbyist and representative for Uber, addressed some of the public safety concerns a few council members had while also informing them that up to 150 Uber drivers could hit the streets of Jefferson City during the inauguration. Uber driver David Nyabere, a Jefferson City-based Uber driver that commutes to Columbia to work, told council members he welcomed the chance work in the same city in which he resides.

Fitzwater and Nyabere also hinted at the possibility of a “long-term solution” for ridesharing in Jefferson City’s future.

“My wish is that if we do that trial today, we continue offering the services,” Nyabere said. “[It is] very convenient for the drivers that live here.”

Uber and Lyft have succeeded in passing local transportation networking company (TNC) ordinances in Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield. Lohmann noted local ordinances were always on the table, but that Uber’s focus, for now, remained on passing statewide legislation.

“A statewide bill is always going to be something we’re going to seek and that’s a top priority going forward, but I’m certainly happy to revisit this after the 9th, after a successful and safe night for everyone,” she said.

None who testified opposed the measure.