Ride-sharing company Uber, which had ceased operations in Broward County in July, will begin operating in the county again beginning Thursday.
On Tuesday, Broward commissioners voted on a looser set of regulations for Uber, which had shut down apps in the county after refusing to adhere to regulations set forth months ago. Commissioners had postponed the final vote until Tuesday night, when they finally decided to loosen the original regulations in a 6-2 vote.
“We want to thank the cosponsors of this modern ride-sharing ordinance, Commissioners Bogen and LaMarca, as well as Commissioners Furr, Kiar, Ritter, and Mayor Ryan for their leadership on this important issue for the people of Broward County," says Kasra Moshkani, general manager for Uber in South Florida in an email statement to New Times. "Tonight’s vote was a win for residents, visitors, and hard-working local entrepreneurs."
Uber has been at odds with Broward officials since the company began to make threats that it would leave town if the county pushed through those regulatory measures. In July, Uber made good on its threat and left town, which angered many Broward residents who rely on the ride-sharing app to get around town and prefer it over hailing cabs.
At issue had been whether to allow Uber to operate under a Level I background check, as opposed to Level II, which would require their background checks to be fingerprint-based and would have to go through the county first. Commissioners had discussed how to handle part of the regulation that says Uber can't hire felons released from prison in the past seven years. Under the new, looser regulations, Uber will be able to operate under more basic background-check rules. allowing drivers to follow state laws on insurance.
Opponents of Uber have argued that loosening the regulations is dangerous.
"A new survey finds 68 percent of Floridians believe ride-sharing drivers should be licensed like taxicabs," Rebecca Walls, spokesperson for Who's Driving You?, a public safety initiative of the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, tells New Times. "Uber's transportation business not only impacts its customers but also affects third parties such as other drivers and pedestrians. Broward is developing new rules for an entire community — not just Uber customers."
The study Walls referenced can be read here.
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According to Uber, more than 2,000 Broward County residents are active driver-partners with the ride-sharing company.
"With the vote tonight, these drivers will be able to resume earning good money by providing safe rides in their communities," spokesman Bill Gibbons says. "Residents and tourists will again have access to safe, reliable transportation options when they are out with friends or family."
Gibbons also points out that the ordinance passed by Broward County is in line with the laws passed "in well over 20 states and dozens of other jurisdictions across the country, including the cities of Tallahassee and Gainesville as well as the Temporary Operating Agreement in Palm Beach County."
Uber says its app will be turned back on throughout Broward this Thursday.