Uber drivers battle proposed Broward County regulations

Regulations would require Uber drivers to pay expensive insurance

By Terrell Forney - Reporter

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - Tuesday was another long afternoon for Uber users and drivers in Fort Lauderdale, as they try to prevent Broward County commissioners from regulating the ride-sharing service. Thousands of petitions have already been delivered against the proposal.

On one end, taxi drivers who fear app-based ride sharing services like Uber don't want to play by the rules.

"I know it's about delivering a service the public can rely on, and I know in our business we have to comply with a lot of laws," said Diego Feliciano, of the South Florida Taxi Cab Association.

But during the Broward County Commission Meeting Tuesday, those taxi drivers are outnumbered by outspoken Uber drivers, who use their own cars to pick up and drop off passengers through GPS-based apps on their cellphones.

"This is a supplemental income for me, and now it's a full-time job," said Julio Kamareddine, an Uber driver. "I find there's a big necessity for the service here in Broward County."

Kamareddine has been driving for eight months and says the proposed regulations, as written by the county, would end his newfound career.

"There are certain things I would abide to and there are certain things I just can't afford. And that would be the insurance," he said. "Exactly, 24-7 insurance in Florida would range about $4,000 to $5,000. Uber drivers don't make that on a yearly basis."

"It would completely be out of my realm of possibility, and I think it's unfair," said Uber driver John Knobel about the proposed regulations.

So called "24/7 insurance" already costs taxi drivers upwards of $100 per week. Under the rules, the same would apply for Uber and Lyft drivers, a business model deemed as operating with very little overhead.

"Broward County is on the right track," Feliciano said. "Uber wants a free ride. There's no free rides. You've got to pay your dues. It's what's important to the public, and that's what's important for all of us."

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