Ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft have been trying to find a way to operate legally in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, while amassing penalty fees for doing so. But now two companion bills have been filed to establish guidelines for each service, though both differ in some of the details.
Earlier this week, Sen. Jeff Brandes filed SB 1326, while Rep. Matt Gaetz filed companion bill, HB 817. The bills propose statewide requirements for Uber and Lyft across the board, including background checks, minimum insurance coverage and a ban on drivers with three or more moving violations or a reckless driving conviction in the past three years. The bill would also have drivers with felony convictions, DUI conviction within the past seven years to be banned from driving for these and any other Transportation Network Companies.
Gaetz's bill, however, also adds that these companies must pay an annual $5,000 permit fee, and disclose their insurance info on their websites. The House bill also has the regulations being set by the state, and not locally.
Since Uber has planted its flag in Broward and Palm Beach, taxi cab drivers have been complaining about a lack of a level playing field. Some cab drivers have expressed concern over Uber's lack of properly insuring their drivers.
Last year, New Times reported on how cab drivers not only expressed concern for county regulations not being enforced, but also with the way Uber runs their insurance.
For their part, Uber has told New Times that they do, in fact, offer $1 million of liability coverage per incident.
"We're definitely committed to providing the safest rides for our drivers and customers," Kasra Moshkani, General Manager for Uber in South Florida, says. "In addition to background checks, we provide insurance to drivers. From the moment a rider is matched, Uber provides $1 million in coverage to the driver."
While county commissioners continue to figure out how to regulate Uber, or to have them banned from Broward and Palm Beach altogether, the company continues to operate even while being told not to. Broward County has continued to penalize Uber drivers, while some Palm Beach officials have accused Uber of shutting down their accounts to avoid being caught.
Uber has said that it will continue to defy the cease-and-desist letter sent to them by Broward County. The company, which is reportedly worth $42 billion, has said it will pay off the fees for the drivers.
Meanwhile, the Palm Beach County Attorney's Office is working on an agreement with Uber. The agreement will supposedly have restrictions and regulations that would allow Uber to continue doing business in the county legally. The agreement is scheduled to be presented to the Palm Beach Board of Commissioners on March 10.