For nearly two months, UberX and Lyft have been operating their app-based ride-share services around Miami in direct violation of the county's limo laws. In turn, the county has hit the services with dozens of citations and has even impounded drivers' cars. All of that carnage could end if county Commissioner Esteban "Steve" Bovo has his way.
Bovo will bring an ordinance to the county commission today that would allow UberX and Lyft to operate legally. But in the face of heated opposition from the taxi union, he's not exactly optimistic his colleagues will play along.
Update: The Commission has passed the ordinance 10-2, the Herald reports; it now heads to a transportation committee for a second vote later this year.
"It's going to go to a very difficult committee that has shown no desire to move forward," Bovo tells the Miami Herald.
Bovo's legislation will come up for a vote today for a first pass from the commission. If it passes, it heads back to a transportation committee, which last month couldn't reach a consensus on whether to change the laws to accommodate the new services.
His bill would create a new category of ride services, the Miami Herald reports, called "transportation network entities," which would be governed by a set of rules different from those for taxis and limos. It would require drivers to register with the county and companies to pay for thorough background checks, and would bar the app-based services from picking up customers from the street or from cab stands.
Bovo worked with Lyft to create the new rules, which are similar to those found in other cities where the services have found a way to coexist with cabs and limos. The City of Miami Commission has already passed a resolution asking the county to find such a solution.
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But Miami's taxi union seems unlikely to budge in its firm opposition to Lyft and UberX. Cab drivers, who pay hefty sums for medallions, believe the app-based services would cut into their customer base without contributing the same fees to the county.
"I just don't see the taxicab industry existing in Miami-Dade County if someone gets to do what we want to do and not doing what we have to do," Diego Feliciano, president of the South Florida Taxicab Association, told Riptide earlier this year. "It's just not a fair playing field."