Uber — the Everyman's ridesharing service taking the country by storm — is about to come to an end in Broward County. On July 31, Uber plans to withdraw its services in Broward County due to a rideshare ordinance that puts a number of restrictions on Uber drivers operating in each of the county's 31 municipalities.
The news has many across the county upset, including bar and restaurant owners who are sounding off, like Tap 42 COO Andy Yeager, who says Uber offers patrons a safe, easy, and affordable way to get home after a night of drinking.
"We feel that Uber has become an extension of our daily lives and does so much to protect the lives of our guests," said Yeager in a recent statement.
Like Yeager, many other Broward County restaurant and bar owners are pointing to the Support Uber Broward petition, asking the Broward County Commission to amend its current ridesharing ordinance, and still more are rallying for local support.
To raise awareness on the Uber issue in South Florida, Tap 42 will host a #SaveUber party Thursday at its Fort Lauderdale location. The party will include a signature, Uber-themed cocktail called the UberTail and a live confession wall where guests will be encouraged to share their best Uber stories throughout the night. Guests are also encouraged to voice their stories and opinions via social media.
Despite a great deal of public pushback from Uber, the Broward County Commission passed new regulations on April 28 that included county-administered background checks and vehicle inspections that would be in addition to those already required by the ridesharing companies. As a result, both Uber and Lyft threatened to withdraw services at the end of July.
"Safety is a top priority at Uber, which is why every driver-partner in Florida must undergo stringent local, state and federal background checks and every single trip is covered by a $1M commercial insurance policy, four times what taxis are required to have in the state of Florida. Despite this, Commissioners have chosen to impose onerous, taxi-style regulations – requiring among other things separate, unnecessary background checks and permits that ignore our driver vetting and vehicle application processes. These regulations serve as costly, time-consuming barriers for drivers who are overwhelmingly part-time. The result is too few drivers to meet growing demand, and ultimately an unreliable and more expensive experience. Rather than provide substandard service, we have decided to suspend operations while we seek a path forward.
As a result, you will no longer be able to request a ride in Broward County starting on July 31."
But Broward County isn't the only one affected. The same restrictions could also affect Uber drivers in Palm Beach County, according to a statement issued by Uber July 20. Indeed, the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners will meet for a second time on August 18 to discuss new ridesharing regulations that could lead to similar changes and threaten Uber’s ability to continue operations in Palm Beach County.
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When Uber launched in Miami in June 2014 — and later expanded into Broward and Palm Beach counties in August 2014 — the ridesharing giant gave more than 10,000 new driver-partners a way to make a living or earn some supplemental income, all while providing South Florida residents a less expensive option for paid transportation versus traditional taxi services.
"Like Uber, Tap 42 has always tried to add value in our communities, and it is our hope that our county will adopt a more forward-looking solution to solving the problem of drunk driving, and overall convenience, in general," said Yeager.
The Tap 42 #SaveUber Party will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday, July 30, at Tap 42 Fort Lauderdale. For more information, visit the Facebook event page.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the New Times Food & Drink Instagram.