The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission will think about a controversial set of proposed laws in the present day that would jeopardize the continued operation of rideshare corporations inside Hillsborough County and critically impede our capability to develop a regional transportation system. If the PTC continues down its present regulatory path, we not solely danger dropping these corporations however we can also achieve nationwide notoriety as a group that rejected new know-how and business innovation, and concurrently failed to deal with its rising transportation considerations.
The proposed mandates would require rideshare corporations similar to Uber and Lyft to gather and submit fingerprint knowledge for his or her drivers, impose seven-minute minimal wait occasions on their passengers and improve minimal fares to $7, with stiffer penalties prescribed for noncompliance. Similar proposed laws have led rideshare corporations to droop operations in Broward County and utterly exit the market in Austin, Texas.
While the security and nicely-being of our residents and guests is of the utmost significance, affordable options can and have to be achieved. Nearly 70 cities in over 30 states have created passable regulatory buildings that handle safety, insurance coverage and compliance, and work for all events concerned. The rideshare business has already embraced security and safety measures as a part of its working mannequin: no money ever modifications palms, the id of each passengers and drivers is clear and trackable, and GPS knowledge is logged for each journey. Beyond this, most cities have reported marked decreases in drunken driving arrests because of the availability and use of rideshare corporations. Tampa Bay is not any exception.
Building a regional transportation system is commonly cited because the No. 1 problem, and alternative, dealing with Tampa Bay. It’s extensively acknowledged that we have to develop an efficient multimodal community that gives a variety of mobility choices, together with premium transit, buses, ferries, bikes and cars. Stepping as much as that problem would be the key to attracting and retaining younger expertise and corporations, connecting our residents to a wider vary of job alternatives and, finally, making a extra aggressive and affluent area.
Rideshare is a big piece of this equation and exhibits robust promise as a “first-mile, last-mile” choice, shifting individuals between their houses and a core transit system. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is already creating a nationwide mannequin by means of a pilot program that gives sponsored rideshare and taxi work-to-house rides to low-revenue, transportation-deprived residents. Another pilot program in Pinellas, Direct Connect, offers low-value rideshare and taxi service to and from the PSTA community to all riders, and that program is increasing all through the county. Similar packages are starting to seem in main U.S. metropolitan areas, in partnerships lauded by revered organizations such because the American Public Transportation Association, and affirmed in transportation analysis such because the affiliation’s current report, “Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit.”
Yet if the PTC adopts an unacceptable regulatory framework that causes the rideshare corporations to droop operations in Hillsborough County, it is probably that service all through the complete area shall be adversely affected. In this state of affairs, if a rideshare driver transports a passenger from a neighboring county to a vacation spot inside Hillsborough County, the driving force would then have to go away Hillsborough County earlier than choosing up one other passenger, and the passenger can be unable to make use of the rideshare service to return residence. That’s not the best way rideshare, congestion administration, or mobility is designed to work.
These inconsistent laws create an surroundings that negatively impacts each rideshare companies and their clients. Because of this, it seems that the Florida Legislature is ready to take up the difficulty in the course of the 2017 legislative session. Options on the desk might embrace proposals to disband the PTC and shift regulatory authority to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, or to supply a statewide regulatory construction that creates constant, and authorized, insurance policies to information the business in all the state’s 67 counties. Clarification of the PTC’s regulatory position, and the laws themselves, will assist to create the right regulatory framework for a rising business.
We look ahead to working with members of the Tampa Bay legislative delegation and different state officers to craft an extended-time period answer to rideshare laws when the Legislature meets in March. Until that point, we encourage the PTC to chorus from any instant actions that may disrupt a service that has already offered a lot profit to our group, and guarantees to be a serious a part of a future transportation answer for our area.
Rick Homans is president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership.