LINCOLN, Neb. — Lincoln officials are planning to exempt Uber and Lyft drivers from local taxi rules to resolve any questions over the legality of ride-hailing services in the city.

Mayor Chris Beutler announced the proposal Thursday to exempt ride-hailing companies from the city’s taxi ordinance, the Lincoln Journal Star reported .

The city attorney’s office determined ride-hailing drivers are considered taxi drivers under city code. This makes them subject to regulatory requirements that include a written exam and a periodic medical exam.

“Instead of treating people who provide and use ride-sharing as law-breakers, we decided to step back, make sure our residents were protected and then take action,” Beutler said.

Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird said Uber and Lyft provide flexible job opportunities, help reduce traffic congestion and free up parking spaces downtown. She said they also enhance safety by serving as designated drivers for people who are drinking.

“It is really cool to see a business-friendly piece of legislation” for a town that’s growing its ride-sharing opportunities, said Trent Fellers, who worked on the issue before leaving the City Council last year.

The city has discussed the proposal with taxi companies, which haven’t indicated if they want the city to revisit its taxi code, said Jeff Kirkpatrick, city attorney.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission reports that the number of cab rides has decreased in Lincoln since ride-hailing became popular.

City Council is expected to have a public hearing on the proposal Oct. 2.

Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,

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