Arthenia Joyner again stops proposal that would ease life for Uber and Lyft in Florida


Going back to a December 2013 meeting among the Hillsborough County state legislative delegation, Arthenia Joyner has always fought any moves to weaken the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission’s ability to regulate share-riding companies like Uber and Lyft.

So it was no surprise on Tuesday when she again had the local agency’s back (as well as the collective backs of those in the cab industry as well in Tampa and across the state ) by objecting to a proposal inserted into a Senate appropriations bill Monday night that called for providing $10,000 for a study on whether those transportation network companies (TNC) helped prevent DUIs. And just as importantly, the provision would also prevent agencies like the PTC from regulating both companies at anytime in the next year.

Joyner said the insertion of the provision was not “the appropriate way to do this,” and blocked it from having chance of success in the special session.

Joyner was one of several Democrats who objected to a proposal by Tampa Bay Area Republican Jeff Brandes and Jamie Grant  in December 2013 at a local legislative delegation meeting that would have killed the PTC. The Public Transportation Commission was created by a special act by the Legislature decades ago, the only such agency in the state. Four months later Brandes attempted to bring it up again, offering a bill during the 2014 session that would prohibit local governments from licensing or regulating “chauffeured limousines, chauffeured limousine services, and drivers of chauffeured limousines.”

But again Joyner led the opposition to it in the Senate.

She’s certainly not the only lawmaker who thinks that the TNC’s need to step up their insurance policies and background checks to the same level required of taxi cab companies and other vehicles-for-hire in Florida.

Uber and Lyft began operating in Hillsborough County about 14 months ago to resounding success, but have never agreed to operate under the same rules that traditional cab services have in Hillsborough, creating major issues with the PTC. In April the commission filed a lawsuit against Uber and some of its drivers with the goal of forcing them off the road.

In January, Uber produced a study in tandem with Mothers Against Drunk Driving that said that Uber “could be a a powerful tool in the fight to reduce the number of drunk-driving crashes.”

The findings showed that in California, drunken-driving crashes fell 6.5 percent among drivers under 30 in the markets where Uber operates after the launch of uberX in the state.

However, a follow-up story by a reporter from ProPublica questioned the findings, specifically the evidence, or lack thereof, that was detailed in that study.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].


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