Take the lead on ride-hailing

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Economic models are being thrown on the slag heap of history as technology changes the way we live and work.

Social media has revolutionized communications. Every new discovery and service brings their own rewards and challenges. The way we work has changed and will continue to revolve. The way we move around is changing, as much a result as technology and life changes.

Public transportation in our area does not have wide support, most of us still opt for our private vehicles which means many car trips with only one person. Some complain that public buses don’t have a schedule or a route that works in their lives, especially when there is no late evening or weekend service.

For those who do retain their driving habit the complaint veers toward traffic in general—too much of it, too slow, other drivers. Traffic continues to be one of the top livability issues of local residents.

Add all of that with the fact that younger people are not as hyped to get their drivers license and a car as earlier generations.

This gives the city of Keizer a chance to be a leader by allowing ride-hailing services to operate in the city. Salem’s incoming mayor Chuck Bennett wants to see Uber and Lyft start to operate in his city. Let Keizer be the leader on this issue (Mayor Cathy Clark has been a strong voice in all things transportation for years)—let Keizer set the standard for how services such as Uber operate.

Allowing ride-hailing services in Keizer (and Salem) would help people get where they need to go when they want to go. Things might be different if votes in the Salem Area Transit district approved bonds and levies to expand and improve bus service in our region. Barring that local municipalities must take steps to help their citizens move around according to contemporary models. Approving ride-hailing services offers the public an alternative to their current choices of transportation.

The first step is for the city to find out how Uber and Lyft operate and how they can be profitable here. Cities of every size across the country have had policy discussions regarding these services including issues such as liability, permitting and licensing. Keizer has a little-used licensing ordinance for taxis; there is not much call for taxis now because wait times are unacceptable to some  riders, primarily because cabs come from bases in Salem.

A former mayor once said that Keizer is open for business. If that is still viable, let us open it for all businesses. Let us tell Uber and Lyft that Keizer is a good market for them. In the current Keizertimes web poll, more than 70 percent of respondents would use a ride-hailing service. That’s a great start.

Ride-hailing services in Keizer would be good for students, for people with appointments in or outside of the city boundaries, for those not able to drive and for those who want to attend a social function where alcohol is served.

We call for Keizer to take the regional lead on this issue and create the model that other cities can follow. We  want to see this move forward with the fewest obstacles as possible.

Our city is open for business. The way people move around is changing. Those are two things Keizer can address with one leap forward: let’s hail a ride.

  —LAZ

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