Since April, car-sharing services UberX and Lyft have been operating in Tampa, much to the frustration of Hillsborough County Public Transportation Executive Director Kyle Cockream, who says those drivers are violating the law by not being certified by his agency.
The PTC has officers who can issue citations and they've done so over 40 times since the two companies began offering their services to passengers in Tampa over the past few months. But he wants assistance, so last week Cockream sent out letters to several local law enforcement agencies, including the police departments in Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City and the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office, inquiring about them assisting his agency.
But Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said today that there won't
be Uber or Lyft drivers being cited by his police force.
"We don’t think it’s our job," the mayor told CL Thursday morning. "We think it’s a civil issue, it’s not a criminal issue. Tampa Police Department will not be deployed in enforcing PTC regulations. I think the PTC needs to go away, but in the absence of that, I think they need to work to incorporate Lyft and Uber into it."
Cockream did not respond immediately back for comment, but did tell CL earlier this week that he had sent letters to five law enforcement agencies last week about meeting to "pool resources to deal with this problem." He also said that the Special Act that created the PTC allows for civil infractions and for misdemeanor criminal arrests. "You've got to comply with certain rules on the books," he says in reference to Uber and Lyft drivers not getting approved to pick up fares in the county.
A spokeswoman for Uber, Natalia Montalvo, said the company continues to have discussions with the PTC, "but they've decided to protect an entrenched incumbent industry rather than serve in the best interests of consumers and drivers." Cockream has said that they've been reluctant in the past to deal with the PTC, but he does expect to meet with Uber officials in the coming weeks.
Paige Thelan with Lyft says "fundamentally we believe that Lyft's peer-to-peer transportation model does not fall under existing regulations," but added that company officials intend to keep meeting with Cockream to come to a mutually satisfying legal arrangement.
There will be more on this to come, as there always is with this issue.