Soon after Alaska Gov. Bill Walker signed House Bill 132 into law on June 15, a Denali man became his town’s first—and only—Uber driver. The new law standardizes the state’s transportation regulations on peer-to-peer economy transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Lyft and Uber.
In the July 5 edition of the Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, community editor Kris Capps interviewed Noah Treky, the first person in the 1,790-person borough to use Uber to trade transportation services for money.
For now, Treky is the only Uber driver in the borough, Capps writes.
“If it’s in Denali, it’s gonna be me,” Treky told the Daily News-Miner.
The new law took effect on June 16, creating a single, statewide regulatory framework for TNCs, freeing the drivers from having to deal with individual municipal governments with varying regulations and requirements.
‘The Free Market Won’
Alaska state Sen. Mia Costello (R-Anchorage), sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, says people such as Treky and the people he drives in Denali were the bill’s real champions.
“It was the forces of the free market and what the public actually wanted, for themselves, for their own economy, for their own family, for their own jobs, and for transportation, versus three prongs of opposition: unions, the Alaska Municipal League, and the taxi lobby,” Costello said. “The free market won overwhelmingly.”
“Exactly What We Need”
Alaskans need more prosperity and more freedom, Costello says.
“Alaska is facing its first recession in decades, and we’ve lost nine thousand jobs, Costello said. “We looked at this and thought, ‘This is exactly what we need.’
“We need an avenue for Alaskans to make money and have jobs,” Costello said. “When you bring in ridesharing, it brings people out. They visit community stores and restaurants more, so it’s really an economic boost.”
David Boyle, executive director of the Alaska Policy Forum, says Alaskans may be surprised at how well competition serves their needs.
“I think people’s eyes are going to be opened—tourists and residents—when they take a cab, compared to an Uber,” Boyle said. “Customers benefit because you request an Uber and they’re there within a few minutes. You can wait for a taxi for an hour, if they show up at all. You can’t get taxi service in Eagle River, but now Uber is going there. People complain about taxis being filthy, so when Uber drivers pull up in their new car, people will be happy.”
Better, Cheaper, Faster
Boyle says TNCs do what taxis do, only better and at lower cost.
“From downtown Anchorage, a taxi ride to the airport is $22, and Uber can be less expensive,” Boyle said. “For the same ride, it’s about $15.”