UberX Will Launch in Miami Today, Defying Miami-Dade's Taxi Laws

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Uber's spokespeople confirmed this morning that starting today the company will offer free rides until June 20 to test-drive and promote the service in Dade County.

The move comes just two weeks after Lyft, a peer-to-peer ride-sharing service also based on a mobile app, set up shop in Miami despite running afoul of regulations.

Dade's taxi laws effectively ban both companies from operating legally; privately hired cars are supposed to wait an hour before pickup and charge at least $70 per ride. It's a law backed by the taxi union, which claims services such as Uber and Lyft would wreck their business.

Lyft, which uses prescreened, nonprofessional drivers who operate on a "suggested donation model," has already seen its drivers nailed with 11 fines totaling $22,000 by county regulators, the Miami Herald reports.

Uber's main business model is slightly different. Its drivers own their own black luxury cars, and riders agree to pay a set price determined by traffic and demand.

That service is not yet launching in Miami; instead, UberX -- which operates more like Lyft with a peer-to-peer network of drivers -- will set up shop.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink