Uber continues to ride in Hillsborough
It was a win for Uber Friday in the courtroom. A judge decided the company will be able to continue operating in Hillsborough County.
But, transportation officials say the debate is far from over. That provides at least some hope for limo and taxi drivers who are suffering from road rage.
"It's open market on this airport right now," independent limo driver Charles O'Brien said outside Tampa International Airport. "If you can't stop Uber, how can you stop anybody else?"
O'Brien is Uber upset, watching ride-sharing companies slice his profits in half. "There's absolutely no difference in what we do," O'Brien said. "Either have them operate legally or take away all the laws and then none of us have to go it legally."
Shayne Fletcher, on the other hand, is Uber loyal.
"It saves me a lot of money riding to the airport so, I love it," Fletcher said. "They're quick. With the app on my phone he is there within 3-5 minutes and I am to the airport in 10 minutes."
Uber launched in Hillsborough County in April of 2014. The Public Transportation Commission argues Uber doesn't have proper permitting, background checks, insurance and safety measures that taxis and limos are required to have here. They've fought to end Uber's services, going so far as to plan sting operations to catch and cite drivers.
The county asked Judge Paul Huey for an injunction that would end services once and for all. Friday, Huey denied it, saying, "Uber, by contrast, is part of the new 'sharing economy.'"
"It is not clear that an 'Uber driver' meets PTC's definition of 'taxicab,'" Huey wrote. "There is no credible proof that Uber drivers are less trustworthy or safe than other for hire drivers."
The Judge encouraged both sides to come to an understanding.
Matt Gore, General Manager for Uber in Florida called the ruling "a win for thousands of local entrepreneurs who rely on Uber to help support their families and for the people throughout the Tampa Bay area who depend on safe, reliable transportation options."
O'Brien doesn't mind the competition, as long as it's fair. And right now, he says it isn't.
"As far as Hillsborough County, I don't think they protected my interests," O'Brien said. "As far as that judge's ruling today, I don't think it was a fair ruling."
Chief Assistant County Attorney Rob Brazel said the lawsuit is not over and the county still believes Uber is violating the rules.
He said the PTC is meeting with outside counsel next week to discuss their other options.