Gridlock continues between Hillsborough County and ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft over their right to operate.
The fight has been going on for two years, but recently heated up as the county started punishing drivers with hefty citations.
Taxi and limo drivers want ridesharing companies to be under the same regulations and it looked like Uber and Lyft disagreed.
The major sticking points - background checks and vehicle inspections. Taxi and limo drivers must be fingerprinted. Uber and Lyft use a software program to check a national database of the last seven years instead.
The problem: Not every state’s records show up.
Another issue - drivers wanted around 40 days to comply with car inspections, but many don’t even work for the companies that long. That means consumers could be hitching rides in uninspected cars.
Still, it was some degree of regulation, and Hillsborough’s Public Transportation Commission Chair Victor Crist was all for it. But at a hearing this week, the other commissioners suspended talks, deciding to wait and see what happens with a court of appeals hearing on Uber’s lawsuit.
The result of the hearing could determine if the commission has the authority to regulate ridesharing companies at all.
The PTC chair condemned the decision saying, “it doesn’t fix anything because, how do we enforce payment of the ticket? We have to sue. We will have to sue every person we write a ticket for, even if court says we have the right to write a ticket!"
Lyf and Uber both expressed disappointment.
“What’s done is done and that’s something that everyone here will have to live with one way or another, whether it’s a good or bad decision,” said Lyft’s attorney, Steve Anderson.
“I do want to make it clear what we’re discussing here. We’re not creating anything new,” said Stephanie Smoth, a public policy manager for Uber. ”These are the regulations and rules that are on the books in other jurisdictions, thirty throughout the country.”