With the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission poised to perhaps finally approve new rules that would legalize the use of ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft, now a local limousine company has filed suit against the local agency.
West Coast Transportation Services filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging whether the PTC has the authority to regulate transportation network companies (TNC’s), another term for ridesharing companies.
In the suit, filed in the 13th judicial circuit in Hillsborough County, West Coast Transportation says they are now seeking to provide transportation services as a transportation network company (TNC), but while they have been given written authority by the PTC, they have not been granted legal authority to do so.
The fact of the matter is that as things stand today, no ridesharing companies have the legal authority to operate in Hillsborough County. That hasn’t stopped Uber and Lyft from doing so since they entered the market in April of 2014. Over the past month, outgoing PTC Chairman Victor Crist has worked with Uber on a set of proposed new rules which the company says they could adhere to, which could mean they would finally be operating legally in the county. Those new rules do NOT include a Level II background check, which would include drivers being fingerprinted. Officials with Uber and Lyft have said that is a deal breaker. Uber did leave the Austin, Texas market earlier this year when that local government mandated such checks.
“West Coast is in doubt as to whether the PTC has regulatory authority over its fleet and transportation network company operations,” reads the lawsuit. “The PTC has nonetheless repeatedly asserted it has such regulatory authority, yet in some cases has agreed not to issue citations to the TNCs in conformance with the Special Act and its associated rules (the ‘PTC Rules’).”
Uber and Lyft have been involved with their own lawsuits against the PTC, arguing that the citations issued against their drivers were created for the cab/limo industry, and shouldn’t apply to them.
The lawsuit was filed by attorney Seth Mills, a regular visitor to PTC meetings who has inveighed against the ridesharing companies as well. He was not immediately available for comment.
The PTC is poised to vote on Crist’s proposed new rules for ridesharing on Wednesday.