Uber And Lyft Have Been In Tampa Less Than A Month — And Drivers Are Being Threatened With $800 Fines
It's been less than a month since ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft made their debut in Tampa, Fla., and regulators are hitting back hard — threatening drivers with warnings and citations that could add up to a maximum of $800, The Tampa Tribune reports.
While the Florida legislature has two bills pending that would officially allow the ridesharing services — both very much opposed by taxi and limousine drivers — the companies decided not to wait to see how it played out and just launched anyway.
Now, their drivers face the wrath of Tampa's Public Transportation Commission, as its Executive Director has told the Tribune it would start issuing fines ranging from $30 to several hundred bucks. A driver operating without a certificate issued by the PTC could be hit with a $500 ticket, but that could go up depending on other factors.
The city is very much divided on the issue of allowing ridesharing services. Mayor Bob Buckhorn supports the companies, while some Hillsborough County commissioners call them "unlicensed interlopers" who are not following the same rules as the cab companies.
A recent editorial in the Tampa Bay Times insinuated that for-hire car services could "sprout like weeds and operate on the county's roads without any reasonable safety guarantees for paying passengers."
But safety isn't taken lightly, at least from Uber.
"[We have] the most rigorous background checks you'll find in the industry," Rachel Holt, Tampa Bay's Uber-X manager, told USA Today. "County, state, city, sex offender registry, motor vehicle checks … and all rides are insured for $1 million."
A similarly heated debate happened in Dallas, Texas eight months ago, a city which just today announced a proposed rewrite of its regulations that Uber, Lyft, and most of the cab and limousine companies actually liked, Dallas News reported.