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Government paying a portion of your Uber fare? Let’s talk about it, says Jeff Brandes

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

State Sen. Jeff Brandes says he knows where the future of transportation is heading, and it’s not towards a bus stop.

“The future of transportation is people going from your house to your business and back,” said Brandes, alluding to ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft. “It’s isn’t […] walking to the bus stop, getting on the bus, taking the bus to the next bus stop, getting off and walking to your destination.”

Brandes’ remarks came Wednesday night, during a discussion with members of the Pinellas GOP. The 40-year-old Republican took some of his time with the mic to discuss legalizing and regulating operations like Uber and Lyft, citing DUI’s as one of his main motivations.

“Uber and Lyft […] are the only things [that’ve] meaningfully moved the needle on DUI’s,” said Brandes, who currently chairs the Senate Committee on Transportation. “The best way to keep people from drinking and driving […] is to give them another option.”

So far, the state hasn’t officially legalized these types of ride-sharing services, which means, for the most part, local governments get to decide how they’re regulated.

With that information at the forefront of the discussion, Brandes went into further detail, asking what might happen if local governments funded a portion of residents’ Uber rides.

“What would happen […] if we were to shut PSTA [Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority] down an hour early each night and use the millions of dollars that we save to buy a million trips on Uber?” asked Brandes.

“Buy that $5 trip down to $4,” he continued. “[…] I think that would be an interesting proposal. I think that’s something that people would use. And I think that’s something the government should get behind.”

Brandes considered the youth in his proposal as well, saying that he thinks, “millennials want to press a button, get in a car, and get out of the car wherever they want to get out. They don’t want to walk 15 minutes in the August sun to take a bus for 30 minutes […] for a five mile trip.”

The senator from the 22nd District, which includes western Hillsborough and southern Pinellas Counties, also hit on his intentions to examine and reform a “failing” prison system which he’s sees as “overpopulated” and “in crisis” during the next two years of his term.

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Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for SaintPetersblog.com, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for FloridaBarTab.com. He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail devon@floridapolitics.com, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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