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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Your Uber bill and wait time could go up under new PTC rules

Uber and Lyft have operated in Hillsborough County since 2014 without following PTC regulations.

Times file photo

Uber and Lyft have operated in Hillsborough County since 2014 without following PTC regulations.



TAMPA - A seven minute wait and a $7 minimum fare could soon be the norm for rideshare services in Hillsborough County.

The new rules being considered by the Public Transportation Committee also mandate fingerprint-based background check for drivers and prohibit price surging during declared states of emergency such as a hurricane.

A PTC rules committee on Tuesday voted 2-1 to move forward with the regulations despite objections from Uber and Lyft, the two ride share giants that have operated in Hillsborough County since 2014. The rules could still be revised further before they go before the PTC governing board on Sept. 14.

The lone nay vote was from Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco who said he wants the agency to resolve its differences with Uber and Lyft.

"I'm trying to tread carefully and hope we have a solution," he said.

The PTC regulates for-hire vehicles like taxicabs and limousines in Hillsborough County. The new rules would formally bring rideshare companies under PTC purview by creating a special category known as transportation network companies, or TNCs.

Among the other regulations under consideration are annual vehicle inspections, insurance coverage in line with that mandated for taxicabs and a maximum vehicle age of 8 years.

Rideshare drivers would also be prohibited from picking up street hail passengers and accepting cash payments. Taxicab drivers who have a permit would be able to take on rideshare fares.

Uber and Lyft are expected to challenge the new rules. If either files an objection, a second public hearing would be required, likely in October, before the new regulations can be adopted.

Uber is already challenging the PTC's right to regulate rideshare firms before Florida's 2nd District Court of Appeal. The company is asking the court to overturn fines the agency levied on Uber drivers for operating without a permit and insurance. A three-judge panel is expected to rule on the issue in the next few months. 

“It’s a sad day,” said Uber spokesman Javi Correoso. “Despite the fact despite the fact the PTC does not have jurisdiction over regulating ridesharing, it is directing staff to draft a proposal that if enacted would be the worst regulatory framework for ridesharing in the country.” 

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 17, 2016 7:03am]


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