Legislation that reduces Nashville's minimum vehicle-for-hire fee and would open the door for the app-based services like Uber to be used in the city is headed for final approval in the new year.
The Metro Council approved the bill on second reading Tuesday night and will take a final vote at its Jan. 7 meeting.
Uber, which rolled out its cheaper ride-sharing service in Nashville last week, is an increasingly popular service in cities nationwide, which allows people to order black-car service by using a smartphone app.
At-Large Councilman Ronnie Steine, who's sponsoring the bill, said he believes the council was "acting in good faith" when it passed regulations four years ago that included the $45 minimum fee for limousine and black-car services.
"We have now had time and experience to realize that that number is too high," he said.
Although the bill doesn't mention Uber by name, it includes a provision that amends the Metro Code to allow citizens to arrange for livery service with, among other things, "internet-based technology applications." Steine said that committee chairs considering the bill had received "thousands" of emails supporting it, from Nashvillians as well as visitors who had arrived at the airport and tried unsuccessfully to use Uber.
Councilmen Bo Mitchell and Fabian Bedne each asked Steine to defer the bill, citing concerns on behalf of cab drivers that the changes might hurt their business. Steine assured them that the bill was designed to do no such thing.
"This is not designed in any way — even though I think that some think [it is] — to hit at our cab service in this county," he said. "We need our cabs. We value our cabs. We ought to have more cabs and I think the Transportation Licensing Board is going to address that come January. But this creates an option for our citizens who sometimes have trouble getting transportation in some parts of the county to have another valuable option."
In other news, the council advanced one piece of legislation that would allow beer sales on Sunday to start at 10 a.m., and another that would accept the donation of three Tennessee Walking Horses — “Buck Pass,” “Magic’s Gold Generator (Cash),” and “Snow Rose (Boo)” — for the use of the Metro Nashville Police Department.
At-Large Councilman Charlie Tygard's resolution asking state legislators to allow a ticket tax at the new baseball stadium at Sulphur Dell was passed on the consent agenda, without discussion.