Uber, Lyft drivers still risking citations

Posted at 4:52 PM, May 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 19:09:03-04

Progress was made in a Hillsborough County meeting on Wednesday for a possible settlement agreement with Uber and Lyft in the near future. 

Right now the ride share services are illegal in Hillsborough County because the PTC wants stricter restrictions that include background checks on drivers for the safety of citizens.

"We continue to be optimistic about the prospect of reaching an agreement," Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission Executive Director Kyle Cockream said.

This past weekend, the PTC did an uncover sting operation in Ybor City. In all, 18 citations were written to Uber and Lyft drivers. A public records request revealed 18 drivers were given tickets. In all, most drivers were hit with multiple citations that totaled around $700.

The citations were put on hold while the PTC waited for state legislators to pass regulations on ride share programs, however, the legislative session did not act. 

A week ago, Kassandra Ramirez received a ticket from PTC for driving in Tampa. "I think it is kind of messed up for them to have people call me, for me to pull up and then get trapped," Ramirez said.

Ramirez is a new Uber driver to make extra income as a single mother. She has been driving for the company for three weeks, so when she found out she was getting a citation, she decided to record the encounter. 

With the cell phone in her lap, Ramirez recorded what she says was the PTC officer telling her how to go about paying for the ticket. In the video you hear a man say that past Uber drivers told them how it's paid. "Once you notify Uber of what the situation is, they will have you make arrangements with them so that they are the ones paying for these citations," you hear on the video. 

Ramirez said she feels they are after the money.

"Basically $700 for me, $700 for someone else, $700, all that adds up," she said. "They're making money."

Based on the 18 citations ABC Action News received, that would equate to more than $12,000 in one operation. 

So where is this money going? The PTC is not funded by taxpayers. The money goes to staff and to help regulate the industry. The PTC is a commission made by legislators and the governor in 2007 to regulate vehicles for hire like taxis, limos and tow-truck companies. 

Commission Chairman Victor Crist said they will continue to write tickets until an agreement is made.

"We're enforcing the rules that are on the books, even though I don't like them," Crist said.

A vote is expected next month between the PTC and Uber & Lyft.