Thursday, March 30, 2023

Ride-Share, Taxis May Soon Get Designated Pickup Areas on Square

The Oxford Board of Aldermen recently gave city staff the green light in developing a new Safe Ride ordinance that would require all ride-share drivers, taxicabs and designated drivers to use designated pickup areas on the downtown Square.

The Safe Ride Home initiative is a new proposed policy for all cab companies and private ride-share companies, like Uber and Lyft, that operate in the downtown area at night.

Proposed pickup locations

The proposed policy is designed to promote the safety of riders, reduce congestion and allow for a more pedestrian-oriented downtown area.

The idea garnered the spoke support of the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday during a work session and staff were instructed to create an ordinance that would make the use of the designated pick-up areas mandatory.

The Board members agreed that if the Safe Ride areas were not made mandatory via an ordinance, it would not be enforceable.

Director of Special Projects Mark Levy presented the plan to the Board with one of the pickup areas being next to the parking garage and then asked the Board their preference for a second pickup area from either on Tyler Avenue or 14th Street near the Powerhouse

The Board collectively said they preferred the 14th Street location since it was flat, had more “in and out options” and was closer to some of the bars and restaurants on the south side of the Square.

The Aldermen discussed whether to make the pick-up areas mandatory every night or Wednesday-Sunday when the Square is the busiest.

“Wouldn’t it get confusing to have it some days and not every day?” Mayor Robyn Tannehill questioned.

The Aldermen agreed.

The pick-up areas would be used from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., seven days a week.

Levy said staff had originally intended the locations to serve as drop-off and pickup areas; however, he said most ride-share companies do not have the technology to allow for designated drop-off areas.

The designated pick-up spaces will be marked for 10 vehicles on the pavement and a covered waiting area will be installed.

No official vote was taken Tuesday. The proposed ordinance will go through the city’s ordinance procedure of having three readings, with the second reading being a public hearing.