Hillsborough County's Public Transportation Commission has agreed on new rules to regulate ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. But those companies are still not satisfied, because of a requirement to fingerprint background check drivers.
"By adopting these today, we're now recognizing a ride share industry," said Victor Crist, chair of the PTC.
New rules spell out how those companies can work in Tampa Bay. There are requirements for the age of vehicles, insurance, inspections, and limitations on price surging. They leave out mandatory fares and wait times. The problem is that fingerprint background checks will stay, which Uber and Lyft both refuse to do.
"We think our process measures up well against the competition. It involves checks of state, local, federal databases plus sex offender registries and terrorism watch list," said Colin Tooze, Uber public affairs director.
The PTC says current state law requires it gets driver prints. And it turns out, there are other ride-share companies, including Fare, that already do that. Far moved into Austin, Texas after Uber and Lyft left that city over the same kinds of rules Hillsborough County is now on the verge of enacting..
"We've on-boarded 8,000 drivers. We're doing thousands of trips a day," said Michael Leto, Fare CEO.
Fare would be willing to play by the rules here, too, but not if Uber and Lyft continue working in Hillsborough County without following the regulations the PTC is pushing.
"That's just not a fair playing field for us, and we've got a lot of good things going on around the country, a lot of municipalities contacting us trying to do the exact same thing," said Leto.
And one thing seems certain the debate will continue and people who rely on ride-sharing will do whatever they can to keep Uber and Lyft.
While the PTC will probably vote to enact its new rules next month it's also agreed to keep trying to settle ongoing lawsuits with Uber and Lyft. A court ruling or state legislative action would be the only ways the fingerprint check requirement could go away.