Uber sets launch date in Columbus

Uber appears to be coming to the Columbus area later this month.
Uber appears to be coming to the Columbus area later this month. Associated Press

Popular transportation company Uber is planning to launch in Columbus on Sept. 21, Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin confirmed Thursday.

Goodwin and Nick Juliano, an Uber public affairs official based in Atlanta, held a conference call Thursday afternoon in which Uber informed the city of its intentions, Goodwin said.

“Since they are governed at the state level and not regulated locally, they can do that,” Goodwin said.

Juliano referred all questions to an Uber spokesperson, who was not immediately available.

Uber is currently operating in the Atlanta, Athens, Macon and Savannah markets in Georgia. Last month, Uber launched in Auburn, Ala.

In 2015, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation that would allow Uber to move into Georgia markets through statewide regulation. The company must purchase a local business license in order to operate, but that is the extent of the local control, Goodwin said.

Goodwin is planning to call a meeting of the Columbus Taxi Cab Commission, which regulates the city cab companies, to talk to them about the development.

During their conference call, Goodwin said Juliano told her that the company had already lined up a number of drivers in the Columbus market. Those drivers would be independent, third-party agents that must pass national background checks.

They will use private vehicles, just as they do in other markets, Goodwin said.

“We have been told that none of the vehicles will be older than nine years old,” she said.

Customers can order Uber rides through a cellphone app by setting a pickup location. Once you set your location, the app searches for a nearby driver to pick you up. Drivers are paid through the apps and prices can vary depending on demand.

Chuck Williams: 706-571-8510, @chuckwilliams