New Uber proposal to keep app operating in Palm Beach County; taxi drivers concerned
Taxi cab industry worried about public safety
5:31 PM, Jul 13, 2015
Proposal To Keep Uber In Palm Beach County
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – It’s been a bumpy road for taxi cabs in Palm Beach County.
Metro Taxi says it took a 25% hit in business when Uber cars hit the road.
“They have an extreme economic advantage over the rest of the industry,” said Brock Rosayn of Metro Taxi.
Taxi cabs rates are regulated. Uber rates are not, so they are often half as much.
Now taxi cabs are concerned about the economic road ahead.
Under a new proposal Uber and other non-taxi companies will do their own background checks.
The plan will split all car services into two categories.
Traditional taxi cabs will be held to county regulations, and non-cabs like limos and Uber will be mainly self-regulated.
Outgoing Palm Beach County Administrator Bob Weisman calls this a win for both industries.
However he adds it’s user beware. “They (passengers) are putting themselves in a circumstance where they may or may not be as safe because we are not running the most advanced background checks or detailed inspections but the public seems to want and use this service.”
But, NewsChannel 5 Consumer Watchdog Jenn Strathman has learned Palm Beach County Consumer Affairs is concerned this proposal doesn’t protect the public enough.
“Should the county be doing these more advanced background checks?” the Consumer Watchdog asked Weisman.
“That’s a policy call and since Uber won’t cooperate and says that’s unacceptable to them we might put Uber out of business in the county,” Weisman said.
The taxi industry says federal fingerprint background checks are done in other cities with Uber, but Weisman said he’s not sure what’s happening there and how the agreement is working.
Uber plans to pull out of Broward County, where there are tougher rules, at the end of July.
That’s something one Uber driver doesn’t want to see happen here.
“Losing access to ride share services like Uber and Lyft is like losing your cellphone people don’t want to deal without it,” said Uber driver and rider William Leneve.
The taxi industry is concerned the proposal under consideration is moving too fast. There’s a meeting this Friday for cabs and then it will be discussed next week at the county commission meeting.
Weisman said some of the new proposals, which will be discussed at Friday’s tax meeting, could actually lessen the regulation on the cab industry. He expects most cab companies will soon be operating like Uber does now in the future, where most of their requests for service will come through an app.
The county says it must move quickly because a temporary agreement allowing Uber to operate legally in Palm Beach County ends in September. Plus, the county is getting sued by some taxi cab companies over the Temporary Operating Agreement, and that trial is scheduled for mid September.