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Super Bowl serves at peacemaker between Uber and Houston

in Sports/Top Headlines by

Anybody using Uber in Houston during Super Bowl week can thank the big game for their ride. Up until a couple of months ago, it was unclear if the popular ride-hailing service would be helping shuttle many of the more than 1 million people expected to take part in Super Bowl-related activities in the host city. Uber had threatened to leave Houston ahead of the festivities, insisting various city regulations, including fingerprint background checks of drivers, were too burdensome and…

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Joe Henderson: Uber, Lyft here to stay – time to level the playing field with taxis

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

I have spent a lot of words arguing that Tampa and Hillsborough County should welcome the ride-share companies Uber and Lyft instead of fighting to preserve a monopoly that has been enjoyed by traditional cab companies. I still feel that way. However, if Uber and Lyft are allowed to operate the way they want, taxi companies should have a greater latitude to do the same – lest the free market put them out of business. That led to an exchange…

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Fla. court says Uber drivers are independent contractors, not employees

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A Florida appellate court has ruled that a former Uber driver isn’t entitled to unemployment benefits because he was an independent contractor, not an employee. A unanimous three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami ruled Wednesday for the Department of Economic Opportunity, the state’s jobs agency, against Darrin E. McGillis. The ruling is another win for the San Francisco-based ridebooking service, which is fighting a multi-state legal battle not to be considered an employer so it…

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Uber ‘pirates up’ for Gasparilla with new rules for no-hassle, safe experience

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

On Saturday, thousands of pirates (and pirate wannabes) will descend on the shores of Tampa Bay for the annual Gasparilla spectacle. And as Uber knows, as does anyone who has ever attended the city’s premiere pirate-themed event, neighborhood roads will be just short of impassable. To help make traveling to and from the event as smooth as possible, Uber is setting some simple ground rules to take some hassle out of the ridesharing experience. “Due to the extensive road closures…

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PSTA to expand Direct Connect program, Uber rides to bus stops

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Need a ride to the bus stop? Hail an Uber from anywhere in the county to a PSTA bus stop and PSTA will pick up the tab. That’s the gist of the Direct Connect program created by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority to solve the problem of the so-called first mile/last mile obstacle to the use of public transportation. Agency officials say the public-private partnership is the first in the country to solve that problem. At issue is the rider’s…

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Rick Kriseman will seek to deregulate the city’s taxi cabs

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The announcement came toward the end of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s state of the city address Saturday: The next ordinance Kriseman plans to introduce is one deregulating the vehicle-for-hire industry. Kriseman did not provide many details except to say it would include incentives for taxi companies and ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to comply with St. Petersburg’s system. Let the market decide what’s best, Kriseman said, adding that, if his plan succeeds then St. Petersburg would be a…

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Legislation covering Uber, Lyft filed for 2017

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Online car services such as Uber and Lyft got a preliminary win in Florida after favorable legislation was filed Wednesday in the Legislature. The bills (SB 340 and HB 221), which would apply to ridebooking companies like Uber and Lyft, combine parts of previous measures that have been introduced but not passed over the last few years. Still, “transportation network companies,” or TNCs, pretty much got what they wanted, including a provision for driver background checks that don’t require fingerprints, which are more expensive…

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