Uber Closer to Returning to Broward After Commissioners Agree to Relax Regulations
It looks as if Uber might be coming back to Broward County — but not right away. During a lengthy meeting on Tuesday, commissioners discussed the possibility of relaxing their ordinance to allow the ride-sharing company to operate in the county. They agreed to draft a new ordinance that would have Uber agree to begin operating if some conditions are met.
Uber suspended operations in Broward in July over regulations it says are too stringent. Pressured by taxi companies, commissioners had implemented regulations that would have ride-sharing drivers from Uber and Lyft get a county chauffeur registration and a car permit. The drivers were also required to obtain commercial insurance and to submit background checks with fingerprints directly to the county. Uber called the regulations the "most onerous regulatory frameworks for ridesharing in the nation."
After hearing from customers on Tuesday, commissioners agreed in a 6-2 motion to a new, more lax ordinance that they will revisit for an official vote in early September. At the crux of the rewritten ordinance is allowing Uber to self-regulate. Dale Holness and Barbara Sharief were the dissenting votes to the motion.
Among some of the possible changes are removing the requirement for fingerprinting background checks by the county as well as chauffeur-licensing requirements. Another major sticking point for Uber has been insurance. The new ordinance would have one blanket policy that would comply with state policy. Uber already carries a commercial insurance policy with $1 million of coverage per incident.
Uber maintains that insurance and safety for riders remains a top priority. "Liability for drivers to third parties is covered from the moment the driver accepts a fare to until the fare ends," Uber spokesman Bill Gibbons tells New Times.
The county's new ordinance compromise would also ask Uber to pay a percentage to the county from fares made at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades, which is a rule the county holds taxi and limo services to.
For now, Uber says it won't come back to the county until these changes are implemented.
During the more than five-hour meeting, commissioners admitted to having their email accounts inundated by customers voicing their opinion over Uber leaving the county.
Earlier in the week, the company sent out an email to customers asking for help in convincing commissioners how the company's not being around has personally impacted them.
"Your County Commissioners need to hear from you to understand how eliminating access to safe, reliable transportation has impacted you and your family. Join us at the hearing, where you’ll be able to share the challenges you now face without access to safe rides at the touch of a button," the email read.
Uber crowd arriving / Britt pic.twitter.com/FW7i2u2k28— Broward Politics (@browardpolitics) August 11, 2015
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The county commissioners will likely hold a public hearing in September, then make final changes.
Until then, Uber's app will not operate in Broward County.
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