Uber Threatens to Exit Fort Lauderdale Region

Posted on May 8, 2015 by Tom Halligan - Also by this author - About the author

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — On the heels of Broward County adopting stricter TNC rules and regulations, Uber said May 1 that it will pull out of Fort Lauderdale if the regulations are enforced. The county in late April ordered Uber to comply with existing laws governing private transportation companies. Those include: driver fingerprint and more extensive (“Level II”) background checks, driver and vehicle registration, and 24/7 commercial insurance.

In a statement, Uber said that “we cannot operate in Broward County if such onerous regulations are enforced.” See Sun-Sentinel article. "It’s a victory for the public at large,” Mark Stempler, an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff (Fort Lauderdale) that advocated for the TNC regulations, representing GO Airport Shuttle & GO Executive Car (Oakland Park), and B&L Service, Inc., (Yellow Cab).

Stempler told LCT that the TNCs basically are complying with the same rules and regulations that taxi and limousine companies have complied with for decades. “They are just being asked to comply with Florida law. The big question will be when enforcement begins and if Uber will leave or operate under the radar.”

Stempler noted that the county’s decision was based on public safety and also keeping a level playing field for all private transportation companies. “Look, if the county wasn’t worried about public safety, then they could deregulate the entire industry, and we all know what would happen if they took place. As public servants their job is to protect the public, and this is what they did.”

Rick Versace (A1A Airport & Limousine Service, Boca Raton), President of the Florida Limousine Association, said, “The Broward County Commissioners put passenger safety above campaign contributions by enacting a common sense ordinance regulating TNCs. Fingerprinting is a basic safety mechanism that cannot be falsified. Hairdressers, paramedics even attorneys are required to get fingerprinted before they are licensed. So why shouldn’t TNC drivers who will be picking up minors have to follow the same rules that Taxi & Limousine drivers do?”

As for the insurance requirement, Versace said Florida Statute 324 is “specific and extremely clear” that anyone doing rides for compensation must have real insurance by a state approved insurance company. “The contingent insurance being offered by UBER does not qualify under the statute. Uber’s main objective this year has been to change the state law to weaken the insurance requirement,” he added.

Versace stresses that the goal of the FLA is not to stop any TNC from operating. “Our objective is to make sure that they follow the same basic safety requirements that we have been following as mandated by state and local laws to assure that the public is always protected. The association has endorsed a smart phone app which will be available to all members of the FLA, which will provide a luxury alternate to Uber, Sidecar and Lyft. This app will allow for on-demand service as well as ride later reservations, and will only feature legitimate luxury transportation operators. Most importantly, operators will have the ability to earn commissions when their customers use the app in other markets or for on demand rides completed by other operators. Uber is not going away, and our clients are not really Uber people anyway. They are discriminating people who expect the best.” 

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