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Uber strongly opposes latest round of proposed changes on ridesharing in Hillsborough County

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Rules and Policy Committee of the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission (PTC) is scheduled Tuesday to consider another attempt at establishing new regulations for TNC’s (transportation network companies) in the county, and an attorney with Uber is not pleased with what is being proposed.

“The proposed regulations ­­which closely track regulations proposed by the taxicab industry in 2015 ­­ would protect the incumbent industry by imposing anti­competitive and antiquated regulations on the TNC industry,” writes Kate Wooler, an attorney representing Uber, in a letter to PTC Executive Director Kyle Cockream. “These regulations are an attempt to force TNCs to pack up and leave the County.”

According to Wooler, among the onerous proposals include imposing wait times and minimum fares; setting a cap of 1,500 drivers who can operate for a particular ridesharing company in Hillsborough County; Require TNC’s to maintain 24/7 commercial insurance on the personal vehicles used for TNC trips; and requiring TNC drivers to undergo a background check that “discriminates against communities of color.”

Wooler also contends that the new regulations were generated by Drive Society, a new startup ridesharing service operating out of Tampa, along with significant input from the taxicab industry.

And she says that the proposed regulations are being offered as “emergency” regulations, which would mean they could go into effect after the PTC’s next meeting on August 10th without the typical 30 ­day comment period for regulations.

“In other words, the proponents of these regulations are attempting to ram these regulations through the PTC before the public has an opportunity to review and comment on them,” Wooler writes.

Ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft have been operating out of compliance with Hillsborough regulators since they first began offering rides in April of 2014. It has at times been an acrimonious relationship, as the PTC and the companies have struggled to come up with a proposal in Hillsborough to have them operating legally. Because of that, the PTC has cited Uber and Lyft drivers hundreds of times over the past couple of years. Earlier this year there appeared to be the possibility of both sides coming together, but that was not the case.

Cockream was unavailable for comment Monday afternoon.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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