Police chief: Bama Ride must follow rules to remain in business

By WVUA 23 Student Reporter Emily Benito

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley is responding to complaints made to his department about a local golf cart-based taxi service focused on serving the University of Alabama.

According to a Feb. 28 city resolution, the Tuscaloosa Police Department cited the low-speed vehicle taxicab company Bama Ride as a “public nuisance, dangerous to the public’s safety, health and welfare.”

Blankley said one of the major issues is employees are lacking a required chauffeur’s license. Bama Ride’s owner is aware of that requirement and has continued allowing employees to work without the license, Blankley said.

“At the time, Bama Ride was having people drive who did not have that,” Blankley said. “That’s a public safety issue. We went to try to revoke their business license because they have been warned multiple times.”

TPD said it notified Bama Ride owner Landon Vaughn that his employees cannot work without a chauffeur’s license. The licenses are filed with the Tuscaloosa Police Department and cost less than $100.

On Nov. 21, Vaughn was ticketed because Bama Ride drivers were still working without the license. That case is still pending in Tuscaloosa Municipal Court.

According to the complaint, one of the drivers attempting to get a chauffeur license was denied in November because police smelled marijuana when they were driving without a license earlier that month.

In December, that same driver was thrown out of their cart in a wreck. When police arrived, that driver was again ticketed for not having the chauffeur license, and Vaughn was ticketed for allowing the driver to drive without one.

The Tuscaloosa City Council last week decided the owner has six months to clean up Bama Ride’s act. If things don’t improve, his business license will be revoked.

“We have met with them and we have explained to them what they need to do correctly,” Blankley said. “They’ve brought some additional people in that we think are going to manage the business very well. The last thing we want to do is pull somebody’s business license. We want to work with people and get their businesses where they are safe for the community to use.”

Tuscaloosa City Council is expected to discuss the item again in August.

“The way I understand it is that there has been some good faith negotiations and we are going to give them what I was told is another chance,” said City Council President Kip Tyner. “And we’ll come back in six months and reevaluate the situation. Hopefully they will never lose their license.”

WVUA 23 reached out to Bama Ride via phone, but did not get a response.

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