TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Getting to and from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s season opener Thursday night just got a whole lot easier.
The Bolts have teamed up with Uber – whether it’s legal or not. Uber will have a designated lane on Channelside Drive between Morgan and Florida.
Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are currently illegal in Hillsborough County. Right now, there is a temporary operating agreement in place. An official vote to approve the new rules is scheduled for Nov. 9.
The Public Transportation Commission had previously put its foot down, resulting in Uber drivers receiving hundreds of dollars in tickets for illegally operating in Hillsborough.
News Channel 8 talked with Javi Correoso of Uber about hosting the Lightning partnership before the November vote on the new rules. “I’m here to talk about this great partnership with the Tampa Bay Lightning,” Correoso said.
8 On Your Side asked whether Uber should wait until that vote to see if it’s approved.
“Like I said, it’s not that Uber is not illegal,” Correoso said. “It’s just that the PTC does not have the authority to regulate ride-sharing companies.”
“Well, we’ve been operating here for the last few years and we’re going to continue operating until this issue is decided by the courts or decided by the PTC,” he added.
The Public Transportation Commission would only send News Channel 8 a statement saying, “We’re working hard to find a way to bring Uber into compliance with the law in Hillsborough County, and we look forward to getting a solution to the issues with Uber and Lyft. We want Lightning fans to have a wide range of safe transportation options,” PTC Executive Director Kyle Cockream said.
On Thursday when the Bolts play Detroit, fans can take part in this new program. “It’s opening season,” Lightning veteran Dave Andreychuck said. “It’s exciting. It really is.”
Andreychuck is pumped for the season. So is the Lightning mascot, ThunderBug, who took an Uber from the Amalie Arena Wednesday in the new designated lane.
Uber drivers talked about the new program Wednesday. “If I get a fine, I just mail it to Uber, and they pay the fine,” driver Pedro Ortiz told News Channel 8.
Zac Lessin, a huge Lightning fan, used to drive for Uber. He says enough is enough. “The PTC and the Uber battle just needs to end,” Lessin said.
As for Andreychuck, he’s more concerned about what’s going on inside the arena. When asked if he had a crystal ball about this year’s season, he said, “I wish we could. I wish there was.”