Is Uber in Broward County Dead? Commissioners Pass Tough Regulations on Ridesharing Companies

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Broward County has gone ahead and pushed through regulations for ridesharing app-based companies such as  Uber and Lyft. Even as Uber threatened that it simply could not do business in the county under the regulations, commissioners voted for new regulations to be imposed, including more thorough background checks for potential drivers, including fingerprints; inspections for vehicles; and requirements for drivers to obtain commercial vehicle licenses, meaning that drivers would have to register as a chauffeur and that each car would require a permit.

In a statement provided to New Times, Uber spokesman Bill Gibbons said the company can't do business in Broward under the new guidelines, saying the commissioners' decision has let down "tens of thousands of Broward County residents who urged the Commission to protect their jobs and access to safe, reliable rides through countless calls and emails."

Last month, as word spread of what the regulations would be, Uber began an online petition campaign for Broward County citizens to have their voices heard. Even as it sent emails to citizens, Uber hinted at packing up and moving out of Broward if the regulations passed.

"The ordinance is very detrimental to our ability to continue providing safe, reliable rides and economic opportunity the residents of Broward County have come to expect," Uber spokesperson Kaitlin Durkosh told New Times earlier in April.

Before Tuesday's vote, Uber offered an amendment to the regulations, asking for the ordinance to allow a third party to conduct background checks rather than the county itself. Uber's argument was that a third party would be more thorough in making sure no bad seeds get through during background checks. Uber also asked for a third party to conduct vehicle inspections, asking for the ordinance to allow an ASE-certified mechanic to perform inspections, rather than a mechanic from the county. 

But the new regulations are to have drivers submit background checks and fingerprints directly to the county. They'll also be required to carry commercial vehicle insurance. The insurance Uber offers has too many loopholes, the commission argued.

Uber had been counting on a bill that would have prevented local governments from regulating them. But the House ended the legislative session three days early, effectively killing the bill.

Now with the regulations passed, Uber in Broward County remains very much up in the air. Though the company has hinted at leaving the county if these regulations were passed, it still has not said so definitively. 

Asked specifically what the company's next move would be now that the regulations have passed, Uber responded to New Times via an email statement from Gibbons, saying:  "We cannot operate in Broward County if such onerous regulations are enforced, and stand ready to reengage with the Commission to bring more choice and opportunity back to Broward County. " 

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