New Tropic Workshop Gathers Public Opinions on Ride-Sharing

It's no secret that ride-sharing is a touchy subject in Miami. From taxi drivers to passengers to part-time chauffeurs, everybody has a [strong] opinion. What's to be done about the issue is, of course, debatable. 

Currently, a resolution has been brought before the County Commissioners that would regulate the industry. To discuss and brainstorm the legislation, as well as other potential solutions, Miami's New Tropic, along with Lyft, hosted a ride-sharing workshop last Thursday. Over 100 people attended, says The New Tropic's Christopher Sopher.

"The majority by far were in favor of ride-sharing and the discussion was great and civil and productive," Sopher says.

Lyft supports the resolution, which was introduced by County Commission Vice-Chair Esteban Bovo, but they're concerned that the commission is hearing mainly from opponents of ride-sharing, rather than supporters.

Rules and regulations are key aspects of whether ride-sharing can operate freely. In Broward, for example, an ordinance was passed that isn't so friendly to the concept. It requires background checks with fingerprinting, so all drivers have to visit a county facility to submit prints. (Lyft and Uber already do a third-party background check against Social Security numbers that checks criminal convictions and driving records.) The fingerprint checks return all criminal history, but not necessarily the results of those incidents (if someone was wrongfully arrested, etc.).

"85 percent of our drivers drive 20 hours or less on our platform, and putting such heavy requirements on these part-time drivers puts a big burden on them," said Jeren Miles, Community Affairs Manager for Lyft, at Thursday's event. 

Tammy Gutierrez is a driver for both Uber and Lyft who attended Thursday's session. She drives 25 to 32 hours per week, and loves her current gig. "I was a store manager, and I couldn't do anything because they just didn't care about what else was happening in my life. Now I set my own hours. I figure out my own work. I like it a lot better."

Raymond Mathews uses both Uber and Lyft as a passenger, and is also a fan of the services. "It's cheaper, faster and more convenient than cabs in Miami. If you're going to go out at night it makes a lot more sense."

He also noted out that the cost of a ride-share from his home in Edgewater to South Beach is actually cheaper than parking on the beach.

All in all, a lot of people had a lot to say, and it remains to be seen how this issue will shake out legislatively. 

Miamians are still encouraged to submit their thoughts on ride-sharing online, through the New Tropic's website. They'll be submitting all materials to the commissioners for their consideration. 

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Hannah Sentenac covers veg food, drink, pop culture, travel, and animal advocacy issues. She is also editor-in-chief of
Contact: Hannah Sentenac