Pinellas and other counties growing partnerships with ride share companies

Posted at 9:12 AM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-20 10:03:15-04
Every day, Blayn Chamblee gets in his car, starts it up, and once it's in gear, he starts making money as a driver and mentor for ride-sharing service Lyft.
"It's huge and everybody loves it.  We're definitely not going anywhere," Chamblee said.
But in Hillsborough County, he runs the risk of getting a$700 ticket.  It's not something he worries about, since Lyft will pay the fine, but admits it would be nice if Hillsborough County's Public Transportation Commission would finally come to an agreement so the ticketing stops.
"I've got a baby on the way and I'm going to school next month.  Having that flexibility of working when i can is the best thing," Chamblee said.
Just across the bay in Pinellas County, it's a much different dynamic.  Ride share companies say they've been welcomed with open arms.  And a partnership between Uber and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is now expanding.
"So that everyone in the county can get very low cost rides using Uber or a cab to a convenient bus stop where they can take advantage of our bus services," said Brad MIller, PSTA CEO.
Lee Bonner says the combination of rides have made getting to work much easier for he and his son.
"What I do is I commute by bus during the day and Uber at night. It's very convenient," Bonner said.
A pilot program called "Direct Connect" offering those rides, will soon be offered everywhere in Pinellas County.  And thanks to a grant, disadvantaged riders will be able to get low or no cost overnight Uber rides 
PSTA's CEO also says it's critical that counties and cities get on board to help make every kind of transportation, accessible.
"The regulations or the parameters need to be flexible to embrace this new technology.  It is where the future is going and we're very proud to be part of it," Miller said.