Make us your home page

Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Victor Crist pitches latest compromise with Uber and Lyft



Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist, who chairs the local group which regulates for-hire vehicles, revealed Thursday his latest attempt to regulate ridesharing companies.

One problem: it’s not a plan Uber has much interest in.

“Once again, the Hillsborough PTC has demonstrated its complete unwillingness to understand the ridesharing industry it seeks to regulate,” spokesman BIll GIbbons said. “Financed by fees from the taxi and limo industries, the PTC has turned around and used those public funds to harass and intimidate hard-working Uber driver partners under rules the PTC admits, and a state court agreed, do not fit the Uber ridesharing model.”

Lyft was a little more open to the potential compromise, but said a spokeswoman said the company was still reviewing the details.

“While we have initial concerns, we remain hopeful that we'll find a way forward that keeps modern transportation options like Lyft available for Tampa residents and visitors,” said Senior Policy Communications Manage Chelsea Wilson.

The Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission has fought Uber and Lyft since the rideshare companies first started operating in Tampa Bay two years ago.

"There's nothing in that plan that Uber and Lyft haven't already agreed to in other markets," Crist said. "I put the basic safeguards in place that the public should have...And then put the requirement on the (rideshare companies) to police themselves and allow us to do spot-checks to make sure they're doing it."

Thursday’s proposal is the latest iteration in a long-standing battle between the regulators and the rideshare companies. Crist’s plan includes the following proposed rules:

* Rideshare companies must pay $120,000.00 as an initiation application fee for a certificate.

* Companies must permit each vehicle on the platform. The PTC will provide a block of permit numbers to each company for this purpose. Each permit will cost $120.00, semi-annually.

* Each car must have an easily visible sticker identifying it as a permitted vehicle.

* Insurance must meet state law requirements.

* Rideshare companies must conduct Level II background checks -- these require fingerprinting. This has been a huge sticking point in the past for Uber and Lyft.

* Drivers must take their cars to a certified mechanic for annual inspections.

* No vehicles can be more than 10 years old.

* Surge pricing will be permitted, but not more than 5 times the normal rate.

Uber is expected to deny the current rates proposed by the PTC, which are higher than those of the states of Maine, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin combined.

No action will be taken until another workshop takes place in 30 days, Crist said.

[Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2016 4:22pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours