Hillsborough County reaches agreement to let Uber, Lyft operate legally

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Uber and Lyft drivers will now be able to legally operate in Hillsborough County.

The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission voted Wednesday to approve a temporary operating agreement. The measure will allow the ride-hailing companies to work in the county.

RELATED: Hillsborough PTC director keeps job during tense meeting

The PTC meeting was packed with Uber and Lyft drivers who came to support the agreement that had been hammered out by chairman Victor Crist. “This is the best we can get right now,” Crist said, saying the PTC has been controlled by cab companies for too long.

“The companies that have the market share have enjoyed the profits and the ability to maneuver in a market with lack of competition,” he added.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan cast the deciding vote. “The public is overwhelmingly supportive of ride sharing, as I am,” Hagan said.

RELATED: Tampa mayor blasts Public Transportation Commission, supports Uber, Lyft

Uber and Lyft agreed to the settlement, but company officials maintain a state law on the issue is still needed. “I’m hoping that the Legislature will provide the adult leadership that has been so sorely lacking here and do what 30 other states have done and create a permanent home for ride sharing in Florida,” Colin Tooze with Uber said.

Cab companies have long opposed the ride-hailing companies. “We should not be rewarding all those that we have already acknowledged that are already breaking the law,” Lou Minardi with Yellow Cab said.

The agreement will require stricter background checks, vehicle inspections and insurance for drivers.

RELATED: Fingerprinting new sticking point in Uber/Lyft conversation with Hillsborough regulators

Cab companies maintain all drivers should submit fingerprints for more comprehensive background checks. Cab company officials say that will protect the public safety.

Uber maintains the background checks under this agreement are extensive. “Nobody should be fooled that this has anything to do with safety. This process started with a proposal to put in place minimum fares and minimum wait times. They have nothing to do with safety,” Tooze said.

Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick objected to the measure, saying he believes the agreement is illegal and goes against the charter of the PTC.

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