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  1. Transportation

Buckhorn, Florida chamber oppose stricter ride share regulations

TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn and The Florida Chamber of Commerce today will add their voices to the those opposing strict ride share regulations for Hillsborough County.

The mayor and local business leaders will attend a news conference in downtown Tampa and stand with representatives of ride share market leaders Uber and Lyft in asking county Public Transportation Commission governing board members to reject regulations that last week cleared a PTC rules committee.

The regulations would require ride share drivers to undergo a fingerprint background check and get their vehicles inspected annually. They also mandate a $7 minimum fare and seven-minute minimum wait.

Uber officials have warned that if the rules are adopted it may pull out of Hillsborough County as both Uber and Lyft did in Austin, Texas, after voters there passed a referendum mandating full background checks.

Among local business leaders expected to speak in favor retaining ride share firms locally are Brad Herremans, chief executive officer of Suncoast Community Health Centers; Gracie Stemmer, marketing manager, Tampa Bay WaVE; and Kelley Sims, senior vice-president of Tampa Innovation Alliance. The PTC has been at loggerheads with Uber and Lyft since the firms began operating in Hillsborough in April 2014.

Under pressure from taxicab firms whose business has been affected, PTC and its officers have used sting operations to ticket drivers for operating without permits and required levels of insurance that taxicab firms must meet.

In response, both Uber and Lyft have asked an appellate court to rule that the PTC does not have jurisdiction over ride share firms.

The new regulations were proposed by taxicab and limousine rental firms and also by a local ride share startup.

The PTC board is scheduled to vote on them at a meeting Wednesday.

An online petition to "save Uber and Lyft" in Tampa has more than 2,500 signatures.

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Contact Christopher O'Donnell at codonnell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.

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