A plan that would negate local transportation rules in major Florida cities didn’t get through the legislature this year, but supporters of the deregulation made big waves in the process.
Uber—an app that summons luxury rides —wants to become a major player in Florida. But right now, it’s largely on the sidelines, offering services only in Jacksonville. At the center of the conflict is how local governments regulate the limo industry. Cities like Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale have strict rules in place when it comes to wait times and minimum fares.
“Why does it have to cost $50? Why is there no other option to get a classy ride...to go down the street in Tampa, or $35 to go down the street in Orlando, or $70 to go down the street in Miami? There are laws on the books that are simply not in the best interest of consumers," says Uber's East Coast General Manager, Rachel Holt.
Uber urged state lawmakers to pass a watered-down version of a proposal that would have affected Hillsboro County only, but it failed under pushback from taxi cabs and local governments. Taxi operators worry letting Uber in will give limos an advantage while keeping taxi regulations in place.
Uber had also championed a much broader proposal would have allowed the company's other service, UberX to operate in more cities. UberX s a ride-share program. The larger bill was initially opposed by the insurance industry, which later moderated its stance after the bill was stripped down.
“We need to make sure the rules of the road regarding insurance coverage should be clarified so that those TNC’s--transportation network companies—drivers and the public know where they stand and have certainty that they’re protected if an accident occurs with an UberX or Lyft or SideCar," says Donovan Brown with Property Casualty Insurers of America.
Last weekend in Tampa UBER drivers and those with rival company LYFT—received tickets for not having commercial insurance policies—the kind of insurance taxis are required to have. Uber officials say they plan to come back to the legislature next year to try and roll back what they call restrictive barriers to business like mandatory wait times and minimum fares for limosines, and local rules around shuttling people around.
For example, Taxi drivers are required to carry commercial insurance policies. Over the weekend several UBER ride-share drivers were ticketed for not having those policies in place.