HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The videos are clearly not from a professional photographer. In fact, it appears they were taken by a cell phone or some kind of camera being worn, or maybe even concealed by the person taking them.
Never less, the videos are revealing.
News Channel 8 made a public records request to the Hillsborough County Attorney to obtain the videos.
The videos show Public Transportation Commission employees interacting with cab drivers, giving them water and apparently coaching them how to beat Uber and Lyft drivers to get business.
“What do you have for your customers today?” asked a PTC employee of a cab driver in one video.
“You don’t have no gum or water for your customers? Uber does,” said the PTC employee.
The cheery interaction did not sit well with former PTC Board Chairman Victor Crist, who still serves as a County Commissioner.
“When you are a regulatory agency, who is responsible for oversight of an industry, you can’t pick and choose favorites. You’ve got to maintain a distance between the companies and entities that you regulate,” said Crist.
Other videos obtained by News Channel 8 show a PTC sting operation, when the PTC used cab drivers to pose as customers to lure Uber and Lyft drivers, so they could be ticketed for operating without a proper license as required by Hillsborough County at the time.
Crist believes the operation was out of line.
“On several different levels, I’m shocked. I mean as the former chairman of the board, I was unaware of those things taking place. Our director never brought that to our attention,” said Crist.
A spokesman for Uber called the videos “shocking.”
Javi Correoso with Uber said, ” It shows that the PTC was intent on keeping choices from the riders, residents and visitors of Hillsborough County and they were fixated on forcing companies like Uber out of the market. They were trying to limit competition.”
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