Tampa video listing Uber among downtown transportation options annoys taxi company president
With thousands of visitors heading to Tampa for Monday night’s College Football Playoff championship, the city of Tampa produced a video with ideas on ways fans can get around downtown.
It mentioned the Downtowner electric shuttle, In-Towner free bus, Coast Bike Share, Pirate Water Taxi, TECO Line Streetcar, Cross-Bay Ferry, Zipcar, Uber and Lyft.
It did not suggest hailing a taxi, which disappointed Yellow Cab Company of Tampa president Louis Minardi.
“Someone has purposely left out the taxi industry that has serviced this community for over 70 years,” he said in an email sent Wednesday afternoon to five of the seven members of the City Council. Its subject line: “Taxi Industry Displeased.”
Minardi said he learned about the video after a telephone call with the Tampa Police Department Wednesday morning. He said he was asked to supply people to help load passengers at different locations for events downtown and at Raymond James Stadium, where Alabama and Clemson will meet Monday night.
“The taxi industry also services the under-privileged and provides (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant vehicles for handicapped passengers…all on demand,” Minardi said. “I would like to know why we were left out. I am under the distinct impression that this was not an oversight.”
“It wasn’t an intentional slight on taxis,” City Hall spokeswoman Ashley Bauman said.
Instead, the 97-second video was meant to help visitors and to include modes of non-traditional modes of transportation that college football fans, many from small towns, might not be familiar with, she said.
In contrast, Bauman said, “the taxi industry is very large, and people know that taxis are available.” Next to owning a car, it’s the most traditional form of transportation, she said. She noted she left out other traditional options, including taking a public bus.
The video was produced and posted last week before Alabama and Clemson won their semi-final games to come to Tampa. Incidentally, both Uber and Zipcar operate in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (population 95,334) and Clemson, S.C. (population 14,276), and Lyft has been approved to offer rides in both.
Minardi’s complaint comes after several years of debate about the regulation of taxis and newer ride-sharing services in Hillsborough County. Along way, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been among the local and state officials who have criticized the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which regulates the cab industry and has clashed with Uber, as an obsolete institution that has thwarted innovation and competition.
And City Hall isn't the only government agency not talking about taxis. An advisory Tuesday from the Tampa Sports Authority talked about a drop-off point at Raymond James Stadium for fans coming by Uber or Lyft, but mentioned nothing about anyone coming by cab.