Uber Attorney Asks County To Update The Rules
An Uber attorney asked Hillsborough County to make new rules to fit the trendy ridesharing movement pioneered by his company and Lyft, but was told flatly on Wednesday that Uber is an illegal taxi service. The county’s Public Transportation Commission unanimously affirmed that an appointed officer had enough evidence to fine Uber, based in San Francisco, for providing hiring and public taxi services without proper licensing. Uber attorney Drew Sorrell held to the company’s argument that it isn’t in transportation. As a technology company, it doesn’t need to follow transportation regulations as they are written.
“There’s a perfectly good way to do this, and that is to write the rules so that they fit,” said Sorrell, of the Lowndes Drosdick Doster Kantor and Reed law firm in Orlando. “They just don’t fit here.”
A county attorney rebutted with Hillsborough’s argument that Uber has all the parts of a taxi service except that a phone replaces the traditional taxi meter. “There is no question they are transporting people in this county and profiting from it,” Rob Brazel said. The PTC says it has made efforts to bring ridesharing companies into compliance. In an interview after the meeting, Uber’s lawyer said the company has one more appeal left, which would go to an appeals court instead of the transportation commission. Uber’s Florida General Manager Matthew Gore, donning a backpack, expressed frustration with the county’s crackdown on the drivers. “I’m certainly seeing bias. The old regulations don’t address this new industry,” he said. “We need modern rules.” Terrestrial taxi companies have complained that Uber’s licensing avoidance and backing from Google has given it an unfair edge. “Uber is a taxi company, they just have an app to do what a taxi is doing,” Cab Plus Founder Brook Negusei said after the hearing. “All we are asking for is a level playing field.