First Miami-Dade started ticketing Lyft and UberX drivers. Then they started impounding their cars. Apparently that's not good enough for the local taxi industry. No, they want drivers working for UberX and Lyft put in jail.
Uber was recently valued at $18 billion. Lyft also has a hefty amount of venture capitalist funding to rely on. Both companies have treated fines and impound fees as part of the tricky business of launching and have reimbursed drivers who have been ticketed or seen their cars impounded. Such punishments are unlikely to stop the companies from operating in Miami.
"Put the drivers in jail," Rudy Gonzalez, the owner of U.S.A. Taxi, said before a Miami-Dade county commission committee on Wednesday according to the Miami Herald.
The comment came during three hours of heated public testimony on the companies' recent surprise entrance into the market.
Commissioners however weren't quite ready to put regular Miamians behind bars for the sins of San Francisco-based start-ups. However, they were divided on what to do.
Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, the leading opponent of Uber and Lyft, said the county should take the companies to court. Though, Commissioner Steve Bovo was more willing to consider changing laws to accommodate the companies.
The companies bravado-filled decision to operate in Miami outside the law have left politicians in an awkward place. Mayor Carlos Gimenez believes that the companies should have a future in Miami-Dade, but because they're currently operating illegally he's forced to enforce the law.
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This is exactly what the companies planned on. Opening up shop in a legal gray area would force commissioners to make a move while simultaneously letting customers get a first-hand taste of their service and create more demand for it. With the companies paying their drivers' fines, perhaps putting drivers behind bars would be the only way to take a stand.
Then again, the idea of putting regular Miamians just trying to make a buck behind bars as a tool in a political fight seems just plain wrong.