PTC Director accused of conspiring with cab companies to ticket Uber, Lyft drivers

Taxi regulator under fire at emergency meeting
Posted at 7:32 AM, Oct 25, 2016

The Public Transportation Commission's Executive Director took a lot of criticism from the PTC's Board Chair, accusing him Tuesday morning of colluding with taxi companies in an effort to push ride-sharing options like Uber and Lyft out of Hillsborough County.

Emails from PTC staff revealed the group worked with taxi drivers in undercover stings to ticket Uber and Lyft drivers.

The PTC hired taxi drivers, which the group is supposed to regulate, to pose as customers and lure Uber and Lyft drivers to areas where PTC officers were waiting to fine them.

Emails obtained by the Tampa Bay Times also showed the commission's executive director, Kyle Cockream, reassured taxi and limo company owners that the PTC would fight any legislation legalizing ride-sharing in Hillsborough County.

The PTC's Board Chair Victor Crist held an emergency meeting to discuss the issues. Crist proposed that the PTC formally investigate Cockream while they place him on administrative leave. But Crist was out-voted 3-2 by a board that clearly disagreed with Crist's take on the situation. The Board voted to look into hiring an outside firm to investigate Cockream, but not to place to him administrative leave.

After the meeting, Cockream told ABC Action News and other reporters, "If anything I'm guilty of being overly transparent." Cockream claimed his email communications with taxi companies only showed that he sent publicly-available PTC documents. Crist says the emails show a much cozier relationship.

Questions of collusion stemming from the ticket trap and the unfair targeting of Uber and Lyft drivers have led some Florida lawmakers to call for an FDLE investigation. 

Board member Frank Reddick called the Emergency Meeting to discuss Cockream "a coup" and a "sham" by Crist to oust Cockream.