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No one wants to sit on the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission

Times Uber driver Jonathan Torres speaks outside Hillsborough County Center in opposition to the creation of new regulations governing the rideshare service. Uber drivers and others rallied before a vote scheduled Wednesday by the Public Transportation Commission.

SKIP O'ROURKE | Times

Times Uber driver Jonathan Torres speaks outside Hillsborough County Center in opposition to the creation of new regulations governing the rideshare service. Uber drivers and others rallied before a vote scheduled Wednesday by the Public Transportation Commission.

22

November

TAMPA — Apparently, nobody wants to serve on the embattled government agency that oversees taxi cabs and ridesharing companies in Hillsborough County.

County commissioners met Tuesday to organize for 2017 and dole out assignments to various boards and committees. Commissioner Victor Crist begged to be taken off the Public Transportation Committee, where he just spent as chairman during the acrimonious and litigious Uber/Lyft debate.

“I’m respectfully requesting the board to allow me to move on from the Public Transportation Commission,” Crist said. “I don’t wish to serve on that board any longer.”

Commissioner Stacy White, a few minutes earlier named the county board chairman, then asked if anyone was willing to take the seat.

Crickets.

Finally, Commissioner Les Miller, offered himself up as tribute.

“This hurts, Mr. Chairman,” Miller said, followed by a long pause. “I’m going to be a nut, lose my mind, jump off a cliff, and take the PTC.”

The board applauded.

The PTC was overwhelmed by controversy this past year as it weighed whether to force similar regulations for Uber and Lyft as it does taxis and limos. Amid the debate, revelations emerged that its former executive director worked in concert with cab companies to run sting operations to catch Uber drivers operating illegally here. Shouting matches and angry accusations between PTC commissioners and regulated industries were not uncommon. 

In the end, the PTC approved ridesharing with some rules for background checks and vehicle inspections, though Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, still wants to eliminate it and Crist has vowed to help.

The PTC was created by a special act of the legislature to oversee the ride-for-hire industry in Hillsborough County. No other jurisdiction has a similar autonomous regulatory agency.

County commissioners aren’t the only ones wishing themselves off the PTC. Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick resigned from the board this month.

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 1:48pm]

    

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