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Uber, Lyft now under new state regulations

Proponents say rules designed to make ride-sharing companies safer

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Long-debated statewide regulations for “transportation network companies,” such as Uber and Lyft, went into effect July 1.

The House measure, backed by the ride-sharing industry and signed by Gov. Rick Scott, includes insurance and background-check requirements that are less stringent than those sought by local governments.

The bill also gives Uber and Lyft a green light to operate in all Florida cities. Uber has been in Jacksonville since 2014.

The bill includes zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol and mandates equal fees for ride-sharing and taxi companies.

City Councilman Matt Schellenberg was a big advocate of bringing ride-sharing services to Jacksonville.

“Before you get into a taxi, you really don’t know the taxi driver. In the ride-sharing business, you know the business, you know the driver, you know the car, you know the license place and you can take that and forward it on to anybody that you want going forward,” Schellenberg said.

But fellow City Councilman John Crescimbeni said ride-sharing services don’t offer a level playing field for local taxi drivers who need to make a living.  

“We had some regulations for the taxi business that the Uber businesses, the Lyfts, weren’t complying by. I thought that was grossly unfair,” he said.

While Crescimbeni isn’t in favor of the services, he said city ordinances will have to change to comply with the new state law.

Uber rider Marcos Karayanakis said he’s revved up for more transparency and even more rides.

“It’ll make things safer, because usually people are taking Lyft or Uber not just because they don’t have a car, but because they want a safer option for a night out on the town,” he said. “And I can’t see how more safety would ever be a bad thing.”

Florida is one of the last states -- 49th -- to adopt state laws to regulate ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft.

 

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.