Brandes blasts PTC over proposed rideshare fine hike
A plan by the Public Transportation Commission to increase fines for ride share drivers has the agency once again under fire from State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg.
A PTC rules committee voted 3-0 last week in support of higher fines for both drivers and rideshare firms. If approved by the full board, it would raise the fine for a driver from $700 to $900. Rideshare firms also would be harder hit: The fine for allowing the operation of a vehicle without a permit would double from $200 to $400.
Brandes, who believes rideshare firms provide an innovative boost to the area’s transportation options, said today he intends to file legislation to “prohibit the actions of groups like the PTC who stand in the way of innovation in our state.”
“The Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission continues to bury their collective heads in the sand, ignoring the outcry of support from their constituents who support rideshare services like Uber and Lyft,” he said in a statement. “The PTC is standing in the way of services which have been proven to reduce DUIs and make our roads safer. The Public Transportation Commission is the very definition of crony capitalism, and we cannot allow this blatant corruption to continue.”
Brandes and state Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, filed a local bill in 2013 attempting to abolish the PTC, but it failed to win enough support from other members of the local legislative delegation to move forward.
In 2015, Brandes wrote on his Facebook page that it was time to abolish the PTC after the agency sought a court injunction against Uber and Lyft.
The PTC regulates for hire vehicles like taxicabs and limousines. Uber and Lyft have been operating in Hillsborough County since April 2014 but have not complied with PTC regulations regarding insurance, background checks for drivers and permits.
A recent PolitiFact analysis of whether rideshare has reduced DUIs in Tampa Bay rated the claim half true. It found that there were 414 fewer DUI arrests in 2015 than in 2014. But experts said there is no conclusive proof linking the decline to the arrival of Uber and Lyft. Also, at the beginning of 2016, arrests for DUI increased again to pre-Uber levels.