Broward County stiffens regulations on Uber, Lyft

New ordinance requires transportation companies to have license, drivers to have insurance

By Terrell Forney - Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Broward County officials announced Tuesday that transportation network companies, like Uber and Lyft, can now legally operate under defined rules and regulations. The regulations were announced and approved in an ordinance Tuesday by the Broward County Commission.

The new ordinance requires transportation companies to have a license to operate in Broward County. Every driver must also have chauffeur registrations.

There is no limit to the number of cars that can operate under a license.

"Uber will have to have insurance requirements -- fulfill insurance requirements -- that are consistent with what the cabs are paying right now, and it's mandated by state law," Broward County Mayor Tim Ryan said.

Diego Feliciano, president of the South Florida Taxicab Association, said his drivers have insurance that costs them more than $100 per week.

Commissioners also approved national and state background checks, including fingerprinting, for all hired-vehicle drivers. All cars must also be inspected by a licensed mechanic.

"We're disappointed with some of the decisions that were made today," Uber spokesman Kasra Moshkani said.

Under the ordinance, Uber and Lyft can set their own prices for transportation based on distance or time, but commissioners can regulate fares for pickups at Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

"Broward County is in the right track," Feliciano said. "Uber wants a free ride. There's no free rides. You've got to pay your dues."

Uber driver Julio Kamareddine said he wants to "be able to abide by the law, but will I be able to afford it?"

Transportation companies will also be required to maintain an office in Broward County that is open to the public on weekdays and maintain a website that provides a customer service phone number and e-mail address where a customer representative can be reached at any time.

"Today's decision lets down thousands of Broward County residents who urged the commission to protect their jobs and access to safe, reliable rides through countless calls and emails," Uber spokesman Bill Gibbons said in a statement. "We cannot operate in Broward County if such onerous regulations are enforced and stand ready to reengage with the commission to bring more choice and opportunity back to Broward County."

Commissioner Stacy Ritter said there is nothing "onerous or over-regulatory" about the ordinance.

"If transportation network companies like Uber leave Broward County, it's because they choose not to operate here," she said.

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