Ride Sharing Now Available in Birmingham, Busy Roads for NYE

Dec 30, 2015

Ride sharing services have officially started operating in Birmingham.

Tom Maguire, general manager of Uber in Alabama told al.com users were able to hail rides from their smartphones beginning yesterday afternoon.

Ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft let people use smartphone apps to book and pay for rides. Birmingham officials had been discussing whether to allow the companies to set up shop for more than a year.

Earlier this month, city council members passed an ordinance allowing the companies to operate in the city. Officials say they plan to reevaluate the ordinance in six months.

City officials granted Uber its local business license this week. City Council President Johnathan Austin says drivers are also required to apply for their own $30 annual individual business licenses.

The city of Birmingham isn’t the best place to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but it’s not the worst.

That’s the result of a survey of holiday destinations by the internet site WalletHub. Researchers looked at the top 100 cities in the U.S. and ranked them on things like restaurants, hotel costs, and public safety.

WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez says Birmingham ranked 57th out of the 100, and getting around town was a big factor.

“We looked at things like traffic congestion, which it didn’t do too badly on. But, walkability and accessibility, so are you absolutely going to have to get a cab or an UBER, and in Birmingham, you probably will. Not too many things are bunched together.”

Birmingham fell behind News Year’s destinations like Orlando, San Francisco, and Atlanta. But, the Magic City did come out ahead of cities like San Antonio and Memphis.

Whether it’s the Moon Pie drop in Mobile, The Meteor Drop in Wetumpka or watching the College Football Playoff at sports bars, many people are expected to be on the highway for New Year’s Eve.

Travel is expected to be congested on Alabama’s roadways for the final day of 2016.

Clay Ingram is the spokesperson for AAA Alabama. He says drivers must avoid distractions with so many people on the road.

“It’ll mean a lot of cars out on the road, it’s going to mean a lot of congestion and a lot of accidents unfortunately, so it’s really going to be important that people that are behind the wheel keep their focus on the road at all times.”

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency will be increasing patrols as they look out for suspected drunk drivers on the road during New Year’s Eve.

Forecasters say parts of Alabama will remain at risk of flooding as more rain moves across the state.

The National Weather Service says most of southwest Alabama, including the Mobile metro area, is at an elevated threat of flooding along rivers and creeks. Forecasters say isolated flash flooding is also possible.

Another 2 to 3 inches of rain are likely through late tonight in southwest Alabama, with higher amounts possible in some spots.

Forecasters estimate that through Friday, nearly 2 more inches of rain could fall in the Montgomery area.