Broward County has sent a letter to Uber and Lyft, warning the companies that their drivers are facing arrest and having their cars impounded. The letter outright tells them that they must "cease operations in Broward County'' until their drivers fall in line with county taxi laws and transportation regulations.
Uber, which has grown into a nationwide phenomenon and recently secured $1.2 billion in funding, has been a sore spot for local taxi cab drivers, who say the company plays by its own rules while poaching away customers. Lyft, which is also addressed in the letter, has accused Uber of taking away drivers.
Uber announced its arrival in Broward County in August.
Customers have praised Uber for its convenience. To get an Uber ride, you simply download an app and pay a fixed fee. There's no dispatcher, as with conventional taxi or limousine services.
However, there are also no industry regulations placed on the drivers, which has been an issue with taxi cab companies across the country.
Earlier this year, Uber started a petition to get the Florida Legislature to approve a bill to allow its operations statewide. The petition ultimately failed.
And now the letter sent by Broward commissioners, which you can read in its entirety below, says that Uber and Lyft need to comply with county laws, such as having their drivers obtain chauffeur licenses, permits, and decals. There are also requirements for a separate set of decals to be allowed to transport customers to and from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport as well as Port Everglades.
Drivers must get a specific type of insurance and pay a fee to be permitted to transport people to and from the airport and port.
"We are informed that Uber and its drivers do not have the proper permits, registrations, and decals to conduct ground transportation on the streets of Broward County or at the Airport and Port," the letter says. "As a result, Uber and its drivers are violating the Motor Carriers Ordinance and trespassing on county property at the Airport and Port."
These concerns were brought up earlier this year when Uber began sending out signals that it was planning to expand to Florida.
In April, New Times spoke with a Chicago-based cabdriver working with Uber who asked to remain anonymous who expressed concerns over the ride-sharing company's lack of regulating its drivers.
"It's decimating the cab industry," he told us. "They're bringing in regular people and telling them to operate as cabbies and not providing them with insurance."
Jennifer Condie, a cabdriver from Palm Beach County, echoed the Chicago cabbie's sentiments, telling New Times that the main issue she and her fellow cabbies had with Uber was a lack of regulation. "I have no problem with ride share entering our market," she said. "But it has to be regulated."
Back in March, a San Francisco assistant district attorney told regulators that drivers who are using Uber and other ride-sharing companies were committing insurance fraud.
On the same day Broward issued its letter, Uber announced on its blog that it is expanding across Florida.
Failing to comply with their letter, Broward commissioners say, could result in Uber drivers being arrested, being slammed with a hefty fee, and having their vehicles impounded.
You can read the Broward letter below: