Miami-Dade County legalizes Uber, ride-sharing services

Service has been operating illegally for 2 years

MIAMI – Ride-sharing services are now legal in Miami-Dade County.

County commissioners passed a bill legalizing Uber, Lyft and other similar services in a 9-2 decision Tuesday night.

"The winners are the people of Miami-Dade County," Mayor Carlos Gimenez told Local 10 News.

Commissioner Steve Bovo, who championed the legislation, said he expected the vote to be closer.

Earlier in the day, a line snaked through the lobby of the Stephen P. Clark Government Center as dozens of Miami-Dade County residents arrived, ready to speak for and against a resolution to legalize the operation of ride sharing services. 

"I want my voice to be heard and I want someone to do something about it," a taxi driver said.

Over the past two years, Uber, Lyft and other like services have operated illegally in Miami-Dade County. 

Before the meeting, there was a concern that Uber could potentially face a snag over a couple of issues, including fingerprinting.

Some commissioners, including an absent Jose "Pepe" Diaz, have said they support fingerprinting Uber drivers. It was an issue that caused the company to stop operations in Broward County for a short time last year.

"Most taxi cab drivers today don't get fingerprinted. It's only the medallion owners," Gimenez said. "And medallion owners aren't always driving the cars."

Diego Feliciano, president of the South Florida Taxicab Association, said there are 700 or 800 cab drivers who are fingerprinted.

Kasra Moshkani, general manager of Uber South Florida, doesn't agree with the fingerprinting.

"Fingerprinting doesn't necessarily provide additional safety. It discriminates against minority communities and produces a hurdle for part time drivers," Moshkani said.

Another issue was the fees Uber owes the county for illegally operating over the last two-and-a-half-years.

Gimenez said the fees amount to about $4 million.

"I hope to obtain a sizeable amount -- a high percentage of the fines -- as a settlement," Gimenez said.

Despite the vote, Feliciano said his association will continue to fight.

"They've devalued the taxicab industry to a point where the only thing they haven't done is put the nails on the coffin, but they've got us in the coffin already," Feliciano said.

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