Uber and Lyft arrive in Beaver Dam

January 2, 2019
A taxicab drives down Madison Street on Monday as snow starts to fall just in time for the new year. Beaver Dam's contracted taxicab service will now be competing with Uber and Lyft drivers.

Anyone partying hard for New Year’s Eve on Madison Street, and any other day, have another option to make it home: Uber and Lyft.

Riders can now open up the apps, which offer taxi-like ride-hailing services, on a given night and find drivers ready to transport them. On a recent Friday night, there were two Uber drivers available and one on Lyft. Uber and Lyft show where a driver is on a map and allow riders to contact the drivers directly. One of the new drivers even advertised his services on social media sites.

The city of Beaver Dam does contract for cab services through Running, Inc., which costs $3 per person with a phone call.

Carli Reinecke, who was visiting from Seattle on Friday, used Uber to get to and from Morry’s Bar, 430 Madison St.

“I liked being able to track when the driver would be there, vs. the cab service, and thought it was really convenient,” she said. “Also in terms of price, when all four of us rode, it was cheaper than the cab.”

Her charge for an Uber was about $6. Reinecke said she liked that her driver offered her water on the way back to where she was staying, which was a nice touch after leaving the bar.

Beaver Dam has ordinances regulating taxicab drivers, who are required to be licensed, but state law prohibits local municipalities from passing ordinances that regulate ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. The state law, signed by Gov. Scott Walker in 2015, requires ride-sharing companies to buy a state license, conduct background checks, maintain insurance and not discriminate against passengers based on certain factors.

In other states, municipalities often get into tangles with ride-sharing companies over their attempts to put in regulations like the ones in place for traditional taxi services.

The Common Council regulates taxicab drivers through the council’s administrative committee, which recommends whether to issue licenses to prospective drivers.

Lisa Davidson, the chair of the administration committee, said that Uber and Lyft coming to Beaver Dam is a sign of the times.

“I think the fact that were seeing that emerge in Beaver Dam is a good sign, so I think its definitely something we should embrace,” she said. “I would like to look at how we can ensure this a safe method of transportation for the citizens of Beaver Dam and how can we promote more entrepreneurship in this kind of model utilizing technology.”

She said the more transportation options available, the better, while still examining how to make sure it works effectively with safety for passengers in mind. She also said it could help reduce the pressure on other transportation options in the city to make sure no one is left behind.

“That’s a very encouraging sign if Uber and Lyft are coming to Beaver Dam,” Davidson said. “That demonstrates our community is growing and there is interest in bringing Beaver Dam more into that lane where we have these types of options that we have previously not had here in a city of 16,000. I want to be helpful to move this forward and be successful.”

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