JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Jefferson City Council unanimously passed a bill Tuesday allowing ride sharing companies to operate in the capital city on Inauguration Day, Jan. 9.
The amendment allows the city administrator to provide companies like Uber with a permit to give free ride-sharing services for a 24-hour period.
Drivers cannot charge riders, but Uber said it will pay its drivers for the services.
Tuesday, Rep. Travis Fitzwater spoke to the council in support of the bill saying many of his constituents have voiced the desire for access to Uber.
Fitzwater said he thinks it will serve as a good "trial day" to see what it would be like to have ride sharing companies operate in Jefferson City full time.
Councilman Rick Mihalevich, the bill's sponsor, said public transit services and existing taxi companies are expected to be at full capacity next Monday so another option was needed to provide visitors a safe ride to the inauguration.
However, City Counselor Ryan Moehlman and Jefferson City Police Chief Roger Schroeder brought up some public safety concerns with the move, especially to allowing the services full time.
Moehlman said ride sharing companies would legally only have to meet minimum safety regulations that all drivers meet in vehicle inspections and insurance coverage.
But Becky Lohmann, a lobbyist for Uber, said the company puts safety as a high priority.
"To become a driver, there's a number of things that you have to provide to us that ensure that you are a safe and a responsible citizen," Lohmann said. "So step one is I have to provide my name, my social security number, my valid driver's license. I have to prove that I've had a vehicle inspection of my car, and I have to show that I have a safe driving record."
Lohman also said Uber has a $1 million liability insurance policy on each driver as soon as they turn on the app.
Each driver must also identify its vehicle with an Uber logo placed on its windshield or side.
"As the Capital City, we can be a leader in the state, and are proud to look at innovative services and new business models such as Uber," Mayor Carrie Tergin said in a press release after the council meeting. "We welcome bringing this new service, while also appreciating our existing businesses and taxi services in our community, and look forward to collaboration which will lead to convenience for our citizens and visitors."
Rep. Kirk Matthews and Sen. Bob Onder have pre-filed bills for this legislative session on regulating ride-sharing companies state wide.
The city council also passed a measure authorizing free parking within city limits on Inauguration Day.