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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Watch out, Uber and Lyft: Regulators to ticket again



Ridesharing is back to being a local problem. It appears the Florida Legislature will end this year's session without passing statewide regulations governing Uber and Lyft.

Local regulators, frustrated by a the lack of action in Tallahassee, voted Wednesday to resume issuing tickets to Uber and Lyft drivers and to reopen legal action against the companies.

The Public Transportation Commission, which regulates for-hire vehicles such as taxis and limos, decided last fall to halt any legal action against rideshare companies and drivers in hopes that the legislature would tackle the problem on a state level.  

However, as the end of the session rapidly approaches -- it’s expected to conclude Friday -- with no viable rideshare legislation approved, the board decided Wednesday to take the issue up again on a local level.

"I do think that it's fair to say everybody is a little frustrated and disappointed," PTC executive director Kyle Cockream said regarding the lack of a statewide solution. "We even floated a bill, at the risk of opening up our own special act to criticism, to try to get something done."

Six Florida mayors, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, sent an open letter to President Andy Gardiner Wednesday calling for the Senate to pass legislation already approved by the Florida House of Representatives.

"While other states across the country have passed ridesharing regulations, Florida is falling behind," the letter said. "The House recently passed a modern, sensible framework for ridesharing with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. It's time for the Senate to take action and respond the needs of our constituents."

This is the third year the state legislature has attempted to pass a law regulating the rideshare companies throughout Florida.  

"The best thing to happen would be a statewide solution and we were really hoping that the legislature would do that," Cockream said. "Quite honestly, what we do here in Tampa doesn't do anything to resolve the bigger issue of the state."

In addition to reinstating a ticketing policy, the PTC will pursue local rule changes that would bring rideshare companies into their purview. This includes creating a special category for rideshare companies, known as transportation network companies, under the pre-existing limo category. The special act which created and governs the PTC prevents it from forming sub-categories under the taxi designation, Cockream said.

The board also voted to continue action on one of the court cases against Uber that is currently pending in the 2nd District Court of Appeal

 The regulatory agency will wait until the official close of the session to resume writing tickets. 

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2016 3:33pm]


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