Hillsborough County officials reached an agreement with ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft on Wednesday allowing them to run through 2017.
The deal, negotiated by Public Transportation Commission Chairman Victor Crist, orders that the services' drivers undergo enhanced background reviews, but not the FBI fingerprint checks that are required of taxicab and limousine drivers.
Uber and Lyft drivers also need to have additional insurance and have their vehicles inspected each year, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The new regulations come with expenses for the county that will be covered by PTC receiving $250,000 per year from Uber and $125,000 from Lyft.
“I think it's a good service,” said Marcus Bonner, an Uber driver. He prefers to wait at the airport, so after drivers land, he's ready to pick them up.
Now, he can do so without looking over his shoulder because of the new agreement.
“I'm glad they kept it going. It helps me financially because I'm on social security.”
The PTC also voted to open up the market and allow competitors of Uber and Lyft to offer ride-sharing services as well.
“The more competition, the better the price, the better the service,” said PTC Chairman Victor Crist.
Crist negotiated the deal with the companies, aimed at increased safety for riders.
Furthermore, he said this agreement is a big deal because the area could forecast the future of these companies. The new regulations might spark statewide legislation, maybe even nationwide ensuring the companies operate legally everywhere.
“Why not have what bits and pieces they've agreed to here, there and everywhere in one tightly designed package here at home,” Crist said.
In statements, both Uber and Lyft said they are hoping for Florida to create statewide regulations to keep them moving forward, not backward.
"Today's passage of a temporary operating agreement is the result of countless hours of work to establish common-sense ridesharing regulations," Lyft said.
"This collaboration among a diverse group of stakeholders means that consumers will continue to have access to the benefits Lyft brings to the Tampa Bay Area. We are disappointed that separate rules adopted by the PTC would stifle modern options like ridesh aring, and we will immediately appeal the passage of these regulations."
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