Anti-Uber, minimum limo fares overwhelmingly unpopular with Floridians, survey shows

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Minimum limousine fares are overwhelmingly unpopular with Floridians, according to a new survey by the Florida Chapter Institute for Justice.

The Legislature is considering bills to eliminate minimums statewide and in particular counties, such as Hillsborough, which could open the door to competition from on-demand luxury car service Uber , among others.

Uber, which uses a smartphone app to connect luxury car drivers with passengers, looks to state lawmakers to stop local regulations on things like minimum town-car fares and minimum delay times that luxury cars can pick up customers. The San Francisco-based tech firm argues that the ordinances are anti-consumer and outdated.

When asked if it should be legal for Florida limo drivers to offers deals, including discounts, to their customers, more than three-quarters (78 percent) favor the idea, with 53 percent saying they “strongly agree,” and 25 percent “somewhat agree.”

Only 26 percent of respondents disagree; 3 percent say “somewhat,” and 23 percent strongly disagrees.

“This poll demonstrates that Floridians recognize that protectionist regulations that only serve to harm consumers have no place in our state,” said Institute for Justice Executive Director Justin Pearson. “Floridians intuitively know that it should not be illegal to give customers a good deal, but for many years the laws governing taxicab companies and limousines in Tampa, Miami and Orlando have defied all intuition and common sense at the behest of a small group of politically-connected corporations who have relied on the government to protect them from competition.

“The purpose of Government is to protect public health and safety; not to protect businesses from giving consumers a better deal.”

The survey was conducted April 18 – 22 using Google Customer Surveys. There were 720 responses from Floridians, of which 470 registered an opinion, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percent.

Three Florida cities currently require minimum fares for limousines: Tampa ($50 minimum), Miami ($70), and Orlando ($35). The fare applies regardless of the length of the ride.

Florida stands out since few other cities around the nation require a mandatory minimum limousine price.

In August 2013, the Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit in state court against the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission. The suit argues the minimum charge rule violates rights of entrepreneurs and customers protected by due process and equal protection clauses of the state Constitution. The suit is pending in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit for Hillsborough County.

“If the Legislature fails to the remove these burdensome restrictions on entrepreneurs and consumers, our lawsuit will serve as limo drivers’ last and best hope of breaking the transportation cartel that has locked-down Tampa’s system for too long,” Pearson said.

“We’re confident that if the Legislature fails to fix this, we will ultimately succeed.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.