The Tampa based startup ridesharing company DriveSociety has been a leading entity in persuading the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission to pass new rules that require Level II background checks objected to by Uber and Lyft.
PTC board members said Wednesday the new rules would allow more ridesharing companies to enter the market, and they were particularly buoyed by the presence of Michael Leto. He’s the CEO of Fare, a company that entered the Austin, Texas market this past spring once Uber left because of newly imposed rules that required the fingerprinting of their drivers. Leto spoke during the public hearing, and discussed how his company would love to come to Tampa.
But after the meeting, Leto said he wouldn’t enter the Tampa Bay area market unless he was assured Uber and Lyft were operating under the same rules as his company would be.”We’re not going to come into a market where we’re going to be fighting with competitors who don’t have to comply with the rules,” he said, adding that Wednesday’s vote ultimately didn’t mean much to him or his company.
Fare is based out of Phoenix but began operating in Austin just weeks after Uber left. Both Uber and Lyft have said that they will do the same and exit Tampa if the PTC compels them to include Level II background checks. Though Uber did leave Austin, they are still operating in New York City and Houston, which both mandate Level II background checks.
Leto said Fare would begin operating in Hillsborough “in a heartbeat” if the two major ridesharing companies agreed to play by the PTC’s rules, which they haven’t since they began operations here in April 2014.
While Fare currently operates in just Austin and Phoenix, Leto said he’s been contacted by officials in 36 different U.S. cities. “We take pride in that we vet our drivers,” he said. “We take pride in the fact that we’re putting a product on the street that we feel a little more comfortable about. I’m the CEO of the company, and I can sleep a little better at night knowing that we took that extra step.”
In addition to Fare, transportation network companies GetMe and Wingz have also attempted to fill the void left by Uber’s departure in Austin.