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Jacksonville To Determine Local Fate Of Lyft, Uber After Florida Legislature Bows Out

Lyft car
Daniel X. O'Neil

It’s up to the city of Jacksonville to figure out how to regulate ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to level the playing field with traditional taxis.

The state of Florida backed away from a plan to regulate vehicles for hire and sent the job back to the counties.

At Tuesday’s Vehicles for Hire committee meeting, members looked to a presentation from Broward County, where commissioners were able to come to a regulation compromise with Uber and Lyft.

Marcus Blount CEO of Executive Cab in Jacksonville says the Broward ordinance wasn’t a compromise at all.

“What finally happened is Uber threw a temper-tantrum and waited until they got exactly what they want, and Broward caved to Uber,” Blount said. “They went from a level 2, nationwide background check, to just a Florida background check. Which means if I committed violent crimes in Mississippi, it’s not covered.”

He says taxi companies don’t want Uber and Lyft gone, they want them to play by the same rules. Cabs have to have medallions, inspections and commercial insurance. But, as an Uber driver told the committee, he’s just a part-time driver, so he shouldn’t have to pay all those coverage fees.

Council member Matt Schellenberg says currently there’s a cease and desist order for Uber and Lyft, but it’s not being enforced while the city decides how to regulate.

“I think that this bill that I produced is a separate ordinance specifically for the transportation network companies and then the taxis are under rules and regulations that are 30 years old,” Shellenberg said. “I think that we need to update them, and we need to be current with the transportation network companies.”

Taxicab medallion renewals are due between January and March. Councilman John Crescimbeni asked that late-fees be suspended while the city figures out the new regulations. The vehicles for hire committee will meet again next month.