PTC hearing rules in favor of Wheelchair Transport Service, Inc.
The Public Transportation Commission, which regulates for-hire vehicles in Hillsborough, voted Wednesday to issue handicab permits to a provider that competitors had tried to keep out, claiming there was no unmet need in the Hillsborough market.
The hearing wrapped up a year-long debate on the issue. Wheelchair Transport Service, Inc., based in Pinellas, sought to provide service in Hillsborough as well, mainly for the veteran community. The company’s attorney argued his client was being kept out by “dominant, nearly monopolistic service providers.” His opposition argued providing the company with permits would flood an already-saturated market.
“There’s not one complaint about handicab lack of availability,” attorney Seth Mills said. ‘Not one...This a phantom problem. A money grab.”
The board sided in favor of Wheelchair Transport Service. Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick voted against the decision, as did chairman and Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist.
Crist’s vote comes a day after he protested to the Hillsborough legislative delegation that his father was not able to take a handicab from Pinellas County to Hillsborough to get health care as a veteran.
Crist, who cited his time as a college debater, said he made his decision based on rules, not feelings.
“I think that there is a need for competition here and I would like to see that door opened,” Crist said after casting his vote. “But the decision today for me had to be made within the confines of the box of whether or not there was need.”