Taxi companies: Ride-sharing companies breaking rules

Companies say Uber is playing by different rules, insurance requirements are gray area


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The boom of ride-sharing services through smartphones has ruffled some feathers in the traditional cab company community. Taxi companies say ride-share companies are breaking the rules and the Legislature is trying to fix that.

Florida law currently requires limos and cabs to maintain insurance policies with minimums of $125,000 per person in case of accident or injury. They're pushing for 24/7 insurance coverage for Uber drivers, not just when the app is being used.

Uber driver Tom Villaverde said he used to work 80 hours a week selling cars.

"I missed the first year and a half of my son's life," Villaverde said.

Villaverde made the change to catering and started working for Uber, a smartphone-based ride-sharing service. He's not a traditional cab driver; he has his own car and works when he wants.

But companies like Uber are causing some road rage within the taxi community.

Uber rides can be requested using a smartphone. Cab companies said they have the same technology, but it's not a tech issue, it's a safety issue.

"Their language in their thing, they don't guarantee you a safe ride, they don't guarantee you a safe car, they don't guarantee you insurance, they don't guarantee you anything," Tampa Yellow Cab President Louis Minardi said.

Cab and limo companies said Uber is playing by different rules and that their insurance requirements are a gray area, putting taxis at a disadvantage and putting riders at risk.

Rep. Matt Gaetz said the companies are worried about a competitor.

"If someone develops a better mouse trap and innovates a new technology, they ought to get a benefit as a result of being able to capture more customers," said Gaetz.

Gaetz is backing a bill that would require an insurance policy of at least $1 million when a driver is transporting passengers via a ride-sharing service to address some of the concerns.

Villaverde said he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong and it comes down to money for the traditional companies.

"If somebody didn't pick me for a team, yeah, I'd be upset, I'd call names, but they want more people on their side and they want less Uber drivers so they can capitalize more," said Villaverde.

Cabs said both companies can exist as long as they both have a fair deal.