TAMPA - Wednesday is a big decision day if you or your kids use ride-sharing companies like Uber or Lyft. The public can sound off at the Public Transportation Commission meeting about proposed controversial rules that could impact the future of ride sharing in the Bay area.
Drivers are divided on whether the regulations will protect public safety or affect competition with the cab companies.
“I've had over 700 fares just in six months. I'm busy all the time,” says Uber driver Dave Stanton.
The retired pastor says that should be enough for the Public Transportation Commission to see there's a demand from riders now without tougher regulations.
“I think you can't stop it, because people want it,” says Stanton.
But ride-sharing companies insist if the PTC moves forward with strict rules it may be enough to drive the companies out of the Bay area.
Uber driver Ranaldo Suliveres doesn't buy that notion.
“The PTC should not lay off Uber. They should enforce every rule there is,” he says.
Controversial PTC proposals are dividing drivers. They call for yearly vehicle inspections, insurance similar to cab companies, and Level II background checks with fingerprints.
“I've already had a background check, so if they want to do it again they're welcome to do it,” says Stanton.
“We have people driving out here, they don't belong driving,” agrees Suliveres.
The PTC tells 10News WTSP that its offer to pay for the $13,000 fingerprinting machine has been rejected, and insists drivers with criminal records are picking you up.
Records show four drivers have been cited by the PTC. One has a pending DUI case and is still driving. Others have arrest records for DUIs and no drivers licenses, and one is a sex offender convicted out of state for rape, prostitution with a minor and assault with a deadly weapon.
“I would not put my 10-year-old daughter in an Uber car,” says Suliveres.
Ride-sharing companies say that if the rules are about safety, why propose a $7 minimum fare and add a seven-minute wait time?
“They're competing with the cab business,” says Stanton.
The Bay area isn't alone in the battle. Companies are at odds in Orlando and Jacksonville. They’ve reached an agreement in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, and pulled out in Austin, Texas because of similar background check demands.
The PTC chairperson tells 10News WTSP that they'll debate and decide what plan is best today, with the final vote due next month.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the County Center, 601 East Kennedy Boulevard, 2nd Floor Board Room, Tampa.
(© 2016 WTSP)