A bill to set statewide rules for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft — and exempt them from local regulations — zoomed by an early checkpoint Wednesday in the Florida House, though provisions for airport access and other issues remain to be worked out in what supporters hope will be successful run after years of gridlock.
Uber cheered the 14-1 vote for HB 221 in the House transportation and infrastructure subcommittee.
Javi Correoso, Uber’s Florida public affairs manager, called it a “first step toward ensuring ridesharing has a permanent place in Florida. Uber has become an integral part of local transportation systems, and this legislation will help expand opportunities to better connect communities.”
Cities, taxi companies and others continue to express concerns. In West Palm Beach, taxi driver Jennifer Condie said she remains troubled that cab and rideshare companies still will not face the same insurance requirements, as she reads the proposed legislation.
“If I order a pizza over the phone or via an app I am still ordering a pizza, no matter how you slice it,” Condie said.
The bill distinguishes between traditional “for hire” cabs and limos and rideshare companies such as Uber, also called transportation network companies. A House staff analysis says, “The bill requires less coverage than required for for-hire transportation vehicles when a driver is logged onto the TNCs digital network, but is not engaged in TNC service. However, the bill requires more coverage than required for for-hire passenger transportation vehicles when a driver is engaged in providing TNC service.”
At future committee stops, sponsor Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, promised to address the concerns of taxi companies, cities and others on issues ranging from deals local governments can make regarding access to airports to any training requirements rideshare drivers should face to carry disabled passengers.
Public commenters weighed in on both sides of the issue.
“This body does not like to take authority from local governments and never does that lightly,” observed Adrian Moore, vice president of policy for Reason Foundation, a think tank advocating free minds and markets. But the bill offers “a good set of protections” and promotes choices and options for consumers, he said.