UPDATE 10/12/16: Tampa continues to struggle with the Uber/Lyft issue. The Hillsborough PTC has fought to keep both Uber and Lyft out of Tampa. The PTC has proposed regulations that would allow the services to operate in the Hillsborough area, but the regulations were met with protest. Specifically, the background checks that require fingerprinting. Similar regulations spurred Uber to stop service in Austin, Texas.
While the ridesharing services are technically illegal in the city, Amalie Arena looks to enhance the pre and post game/concert experience through a strategic partnership with Uber. Amalie proposes to reserve two lanes on Channelside Drive for Uber vehicles to pickup fans from the latest Amalie event.
With the downtown area growing more crowded, and local businesses looking to host bigger events in Curtis Hixon Park, Waterworks Park, in Ybor and Channelside, ridesharing seems like less of a luxury and more of a need.
Mayor Buckhorn has stuck by his statement that he wants to get rid of the PTC. Many officials feel the group has stood in the way of progress for Tampa. With recognition as a foodie and startup mecca, and direct connections to the tech hub that is San Francisco, it seems natural that Tampa keep up with the innovations happening across the country.
The commission will vote on Nov. 9 on an agreement that would allow Uber/Lyft to legally operate in the city.
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In regards to the PTC, Mayor Buckhorn had this to say, “Get rid of it . . . It’s a dinosaur. It should be extinct.” Major figures in the Tampa business community, local officials, and representatives from Uber and Lyft gathered at Tampa Bay Wave Monday afternoon for a press conference in support of the ride share apps. For months local officials, residents, and drivers for the ride sharing services have fought regulations introduced by the PTC to curb the local popularity of the two ride sharing apps.
Lyft driver Blaine Chamley brought up the 7 minute wait time regulation at the conference. This rule would require drivers, no matter how close/far they are from the requested pickup location, to wait 7 minutes before officially picking up the customer. The PTC is also looking to institute fingerprint background checks on drivers. This same measure caused Uber and Lyft to pull their services from Austin, Texas.
Another blow to Uber and Lyft would be an imposed $7 fare per ride. Competition is a vital part of a thriving free market. Both apps have helped local residents find jobs and money. Their presence has also helped expand the reach of businesses from Tampa to St. Pete. Maria Thomas, an adjunct professor and Uber driver, noted that driving for Uber has allowed her to save enough money to send her son to private school.
Tony DiBenedetto, chariman and CEO of Tribridge, stated that he is a daily Uber user since getting rid of his car years ago. He also noted that his 800+ employees are all ride share app users and that if they were to go away, recruiting new employees and businesses to the area would be extremely difficult.
Brad Herremans, who works for Suncoast Community Health Centers, said SCHC’s main concern is reducing barriers to care. For many of their patients, transportation to and from appointments is difficult, which causes some to outright miss/skip scheduled visits. Uber has become a pivotal part of getting patients the help they need.
When asked if Buckhorn had anything to say to the cab companies in Tampa he replied, “Improve your product.”
One thing is clear, disruptive technology is coming and it’s innovating the way we experience the city of Tampa. To stop Uber/Lyft now would be to inhibit progress in our city. Before ending the press conference the mayor brought up the news that Pittsburgh will serve as the test ground for Uber’s autonomous car program with Volvo. Buckhorn stated that Pittsburgh will be now forever associated with technological innovation and growth. He wants the same for Tampa.
For those interested, a petition is currently circulating online for supporters of Uber and Lyft in the area. UberEATS launched just last week in Tampa to immense popularity. The PTC will vote on these regulations Wednesday.
How do you feel about ride share apps in our city? Let the PTC know by sending them an email.