By Alyssa Schnugg
The Oxford Board of Aldermen approved an ordinance change Tuesday that sets the time drivers must use three designated pick-up areas in the downtown Square area.
While not part of the amended ordinance, the Board approved three pick-up locations for ride-share drivers – next to the Downtown Parking Garage, on South 14th Street and behind City Grocery.
Ride-share drivers and local cabs can pick up anywhere on the Square, but they must use the designated areas from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. when picking up riders.
A few cab and ride-share drivers have spoken out against the designated pick-up areas in recent public hearings, saying they were too far from the businesses and that the ordinance forces people under the influence of alcohol to walk several blocks to get a ride, which could be dangerous, and that some may make the decision to drive rather than walk to get a ride.
However, city officials say the pick-up areas are needed at night to eliminate traffic back-up and create safer areas for people to be picked up.
The city will be marking paths to the pick-up areas as well as adding additional security cameras, lighting and signs directing riders and drivers to the pick-up areas.
Lyft and Uber have both agreed to voluntarily have their drivers adhere to the designated pick-up areas during the 9 pm to 3 a.m. time period, according to city officials.
Another change in the ordinance lowers the now, $500 fee for new taxi companies to $100 and lowers individual driver permit fees from $50 to $25. Under the new ordinance, the maximum $10 for trips inside the city limits would be gone and taxis could set their own rates, as long as that rate is clearly posted inside the cab.
The ordinance goes into effect in 30 days.