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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Reject City Council’s effort to limit transportation options in Ketchikan

By Joey Tillson


September 28, 2017
Thursday AM

In June, Governor Walker signed a new law that gives you and me access to ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft in Alaska. For people seeking safe affordable rides, this means they’re now available at the push of a button on our phones. The new law also gives people like me an opportunity to earn needed extra money by giving my neighbors rides.

Despite these real and immediate benefits, the Ketchikan City Council wants to make ridesharing illegal here. Thankfully, the law forces them to put the issue to the public to decide. Voters should realize this is nothing but an attempt to protect Ketchikan’s taxi companies and tour businesses, and that if ridesharing is in fact banned in our city, it will be bad for the vast majority of local residents--riders as well as current and potential drivers. Voting to reject the proposed ban on better transportation choices is the best thing to do for all of Ketchikan.

I am a former Ketchikan police department employee and currently work for the State of Alaska. I am proud to provide services to those in need, but like many of us I could use some extra income. I was thrilled to sign up with Uber so I could make extra money each month. We all know how expensive Alaska can be.

Currently, I am one of only two Uber drivers in Ketchikan. I’ve been giving neighbors and visitors rides for the past two months and the experience has been incredible. I love the feeling of making my customers’ day just a little better with every trip. Whether it’s helping get someone home safely at night or helping a visitor find their way around the island, each ride I give feels like a positive contribution.

Last month, I gave four ladies a ride across the island. They were visiting their father, and they explained to me that they take this trip often. The total fare for the trip was $23. When they saw the price they were astounded. They had been paying $50-60 for the same trip from taxi companies, and they would normally have to wait 45 to minutes to over an hour or more before a cab arrived. Now, with Uber they can get a ride in minutes and pay half the price. For my part, I was proud to help provide a better service and happy with the money I made. Unfortunately, there are limited Uber drivers right now and my time is limited.

This is what ridesharing services offer: better, more affordable service and earning opportunities for more people. Why would our council want to now take it away before it’s even really caught on? Why should those of us who live in Ketchikan be the only Alaskans without the option of utilizing this new service?

I love driving for Uber because I get to do it whenever I want for as long as I want. I get to be my own boss. And even though there are now only two of us driving in Ketchikan, I expect more will give it a try and take advantage of this new flexible way to earn money once they realize the opportunity. Again, why would our council want to take that away from us? We are falling behind when it comes to economic growth and providing additional revenue for our state and communities.

I have already heard from so many friends and neighbors who are just as puzzled as I am at the council’s ban. The council’s hasty decision raises many troubling questions. Why wouldn’t they want people to have more affordable and reliable transportation options, especially when ridesharing doesn’t use a dime of our precious tax dollars? Why don’t they want people to have the opportunity to make more money? With anything new, you have to iron out the wrinkles before trying it on. Why wouldn’t you want to have some new items in your wardrobe?

If we all work together, we can all win from this. I’m not asking to take all the business from other transportation companies but to share in the efforts of providing for our community, giving options to all. I have my business license, I am registered for taxes, I have a clean record and a decent car. There are many who love utilizing new and innovative ways to do business and thrive in our community. You are probably one of them, just like me. I’m sure many of the council members have also utilized Uber services when they flew south. It’s a great option and they are safely back in Ketchikan with no harm to themselves for using the services of a transportation network service.

Next Tuesday, October 3, 2017, the choice is easy. Please join me and hundreds of our neighbors and vote NO on the council’s ridesharing ban.

Joey Tillson
Ketchikan, Alaska


Was the text of this letter edited by the SitNews Editor: No


Received September 25, 2017 - Published September 28, 2017

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