The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission moved closer to implementing rules with that have drawn the ire of ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft. Also displeased: the PTC’s chair, Victor Crist.
The PTC’s Rules and Policy Committee passed some measures at its meeting on Tuesday, including a ban on surge pricing in times of a declared emergency and background checks that require fingerprinting, a mandate Uber specifically has said is a deal breaker.
The new rules were approved by the committee on a 2-1 vote. They’re scheduled to be discussed again at the next Rules & Policy Committee meeting Sept. 1 and are scheduled to be voted on at the PTC’s regular board meeting on Sept. 14.
In a letter penned to Jeff Brandes, the Senate Transportation Committee chairman in the Florida Legislature, Crist repeats that he is vehemently opposed to the rules.
“The proposal I had worked out with the rideshare industry that died last month in a 5-1 vote against me, would have opened the door for ridesharing, Uber, and Lyft through commonsense public safety rules that they would have agreed to and followed,” Crist writes in the letter. “The public safety rules I had worked out with them were very close to what this board was demanding. “
“Unfortunately, the PTC Board is moving in a different direction by trying to pass regulatory rules that are overreaching that they know these two companies will not accept or be able to adhere to.”
Brandes is a huge enthusiast for Uber and Lyft and has been critical of the PTC’s actions in citing their drivers since they began operating in the county in the spring of 2014. In the past, he’s advocated legislation that would eliminate the PTC, the only agency of its type in the state of Florida created by a special act of the Legislature back in the 1970s.
Attempts to regulate ridesharing companies at the state level have been unsuccessful in recent years, leaving it to local governments to craft ordinances to bring the companies into compliance. In April, the Palm Beach County Commission passed new rules that require both ridesharing companies and taxis to be responsible for conducting their own background checks or hiring the county to do the more comprehensive and costly fingerprint-based “Level II” checks for them.
In Broward County, both Uber and Lyft ceased operations last summer for a few months when their new rules required fingerprint-based background checks. Only when the Broward County Commission relented last fall did the two companies began operating again there.
Crist says he wants to meet soon with Brandes. The two had a celebrated “beer summit” a year ago to try to come to terms.