Uber likely to appear in Iowa City


Cars drive down Iowa Ave. on Tuesday Jan. 19, 2016. Uber, a popular driving company, looks to operate through Iowa City. (The Daily Iowan/Mary Mathis)

Uber is (probably) coming to Iowa City.

At its meeting Wednesday night, the Iowa City City Council voted 7-0 on first consideration to amend the public-transportation ordinance in order to make provisions to bring Uber to Iowa City. The council will vote on two more considerations in the coming months to officially adopt the ordinance.

City Councilor Kingsley Botchway and Mayor Jim Throgmorton, who were against amending a previous ordinance to bring Uber to the city, changed their minds on the transportation company.

Botchway said supporting Uber in Iowa City is a no-brainer.

“Uber is everywhere,” he said. “I hear the concerns of taxi companies, and I do think we can address that during the second consideration. But as I’m going to a conference in Atlanta next week, I plan to use Uber. I feel I made a mistake by not supporting Uber when it tried to come last year.”

Clay Carroll, Uber’s representative senior operations manager in Iowa, said the company worked with city staff to prepare the ordinance.

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“We want to create economic opportunities for drivers,” he said. “We want to help Iowa City reduce OWIs, traffic congestion, and parking issues. “

Nate Kaeding, the retail developer for the Iowa City Downtown District, said he’s heard one unanimous request from citizens of Iowa City: Bring Uber to town.

“Bring Uber to Iowa City,” he said. “It’s an important piece to move forward and progress.”

Rebecca Neades, a vice president at the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, said society is now in a sharing economy and more people are using businesses such as Uber.

“We need to jump on board or get left behind,” she said. “Uber’s rating system builds a level of trust, and it just gives people more options to catch a ride.”

Roger Bradley, the manager of Yellow Cab in Iowa City, said companies such as Uber are already legal in Iowa City.

“We’re not against competition, but if it’s important enough for them to come here, they can come here,” he said.

Yellow Cab owner Brett Baur said the city should take the regulations off cab companies if an ordinance is passed.

“Take the regulations off of us, then,” he said. “I could put more cars on the street. All I’m asking for is a level playing field.”

Councilor Terry Dickens said everybody he has talked to in Iowa City wants Uber to be in the city, but he still has some concerns.

“It’s a great service,” he said. “But it bothers me that [Uber] says, ‘We want it like this or we’re not coming.’ ”

Throgmorton said he will support the ordinance.

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