Saturday, May 26, 2018
News Roundup

Gasparilla: to Uber or not to Uber?

TAMPA — As Tampa Bay's biggest party weekend approaches, wannabe pirates are finalizing their plans, including how to get home from Saturday's Gasparilla festivities.

Sure, there are cabs, buses and designated drivers. And then there is Uber, the rideshare company that came to Tampa more than a year and a half ago and has caused all sorts of drama.

On the plus side, it's cheap. Usually. Fares are 65 cents a mile while cabs are set at $2.40 a mile. Riders can use an app on their phone to page a nearby driver and watch on the map as the car approaches — which means no waiting around for 20 minutes wondering when your ride is going to arrive.

Captain Morgan is partnering with Uber this weekend, offering $20 ride vouchers for Gasparilla attendees 21-years-old and over. Just enter the promo code 'pirateresponsibly' in the Uber app by 2 p.m. Saturday for a chance to be one of 1,000 winners. The discount is redeemable for rides taken before Monday.

But here's the catch: that $20 might not be worth that much if Uber's infamous surge pricing goes into effect. The supply-and-demand pricing model can lead to fares as much as 10 times the normal rate during popular events when requests for rides outnumber drivers available.

One Tampa resident learned that the hard way when a 3.4 mile ride after a Florida State University game cost her almost $100. There are countless stories similar to this nationwide — such as the Virginia woman who paid $640.94 to take a 30-minute ride to Reagan National Airport during the recent blizzard.

Normally, without surge pricing, a 2.5 mile ride from Bayshore Boulevard to W Swann Avenue and N Dale Mabry Highway would cost $5 to $6, according to Uber's online price calculator. But if surge pricing is in effect, that 10-minute ride could skyrocket to $50. And that's just for a ride within South Tampa.

It's not just the increased amount of inebriated party-goers seeking safe rides that could up the cost Saturday. Local drivers, outraged by Uber's decision to drop rates to 65 cents, plan to protest during the Gasparilla by not driving. Which means supply will be even lower than usual.

"Operation Cruise Gasparilla" will entail all involved rideshare drivers logging off the app for one hour. During that time, they'll drive slowly through populated streets such as Kennedy Boulevard with signs on their cars such as "prepare for 10X surge tonight," "Uber is looting customers today" and "Ahoy! Uber is stealing your booty."

All this takes place within a local climate where regulators have been trying to bring Uber and other rideshare companies into compliance, arguing that the companies don't provide adequate insurance, background checks or vehicle inspections. The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which regulates for-hire vehicles, has tried issuing tickets and filing lawsuits, but hasn't had much luck.

For now, the PTC and Uber are in a cease-fire -— though the PTC still maintains that driving for Uber is illegal — in hopes that legislators in Tallahassee will pass a bill that legalizes ridesharing while also assuaging regulators' concerns.

Until then, the rideshare company will continue to operate in Tampa as per normal — surge pricing and all.

Contact Caitlin Johnston at [email protected] or (813) 226-3401. Follow @cljohnst.

Comments
Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

WEEKI WACHEE — A woman who runs an animal sanctuary will face dozens of animal cruelty charges after Hernando County animal enforcement officers said they found dogs, equine, pigs, cats and chickens housed in poor conditions on her property.Animal of...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

I may have cracked the code. Found a way to sell doing the right thing. Discovered a method of persuasion in certain matters of fairness, conscience and the greater good.Like giving our fellow Americans a second chance.When morality-based arguments d...
Published: 05/26/18
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Steve Yzerman’s summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzerman’s summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said Thursday, one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the C...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

It’s human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 11 hours ago
In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputies’ actions justified

In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputies’ actions justified

TAMPA — Michael Bratt told a story.He said that Hernando County sheriff’s deputies attacked him in his home early one morning eight years ago, beat him severely on his front lawn, and continued the assault as they took him to a hospital.But another s...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

The 18-year-old who was arrested this week after police said he was racing when he fatally struck a young mother pushing her stroller across Bayshore Boulevard was back in jail on Friday night.Cameron Herrin, 18, was arrested on a second count of veh...
Updated: 11 hours ago
The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places: a city new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world, Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first first-year expansion team to win a championship.And t...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Published: 05/25/18