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Hillsborough Commission Talks Uber, Lyft Ride-Sharing


The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission heard lots of public comment from taxi drivers and ride-sharing service supporters alike at a hearing Wednesday.

The Public Transportation Commission (PTC) regulates vehicles for-hire like taxis and limousines. Ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft have been fined for improper insurance coverage and licensing. 

PTC board chair and Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist says Uber and Lyft drivers can operate legally under the current guidelines set out by the board. Drivers would need to have their vehicles inspected, get background checks and get a commercial license. 

Ronald Seamen is with United Cab of Tampa and he said the ride-sharing companies are in the wrong.

"You know, I heard [the] Uber representative come up and talk about enacting legislation- it has no been enacted yet, they're not breaking the rules, they're breaking the law," he said.

Executive director of Connect Tampa Bay, Kevin Thurman said the PTC needs to find a solution because the ride-sharing platforms work.

"If you're looking at protecting the public safety, we need to make sure that people can get rides," he said. "Now, in that month, I requested dozens of rides from taxi cab agencies on apps and on the phone. And I made a rule, if you can get here within 20 minutes, Ill use you. I used more Uber and Lyft rides than taxi cab rides that entire month."

Crist said there is a lot of common ground between the commission and the ride-sharing companies.

"Is there room for change? Of course there is, what is that change? We're not quite sure yet. But I think what you see today is that we have the foundation to begin to build off of," Crist said.

The board is waiting on an insurance regulation report to continue the conversation. The commission's next meeting is October 8th.

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