The Transportation and Aviation Committee met
Wednesday for a hearing about regulations for luxury-sedan and limo drivers. If Miami-Dade County commissioners allow for an unlimited number of such drivers, mobile-dispatch companies such as Uber could operate in the county.
The Uber app allows users to hail cabs with their mobile phones. Regional manager Rachel Holt says it would benefit those users as well as local taxicab workers.
"In addition to the consumer benefits, this ordinance would enable a significant number of opportunities for drivers: create jobs, opportunity and improve transportation alternatives in Miami-Dade County," Holt says.
Drivers like Syed Quadri oppose deregulation because they say it would devalue their permits, putting their livelihoods at risk.
"This ordinance is completely in favor of a multimillion-dollar organization," Quadri says. "This ordinance has nothing to do with my pocket, to put bread and butter in front of my family."
He urged commissioners: "Vote in favor of working Americans in this county. We are struggling."
After more than five hours of discussion and public comment, commissioners deferred the item until the next committee meeting.
A measure that did pass would require taxicabs to purchase new vehicles and adopt new technology, including machines to accept credit card payments. The committee voted to phase in these improvements, first for cabs serving Miami International Airport and PortMiami.
The reform has been getting some pushback, but it does have supporters in the taxi business. Driver Henrinel Briol says he favors the change, because he’ll be able to serve more customers.
"If they ask me to put it in my car, I'm going to put it in my car," Briol says. "Sometimes people don't want to use cash now, they only use plastic."
The changes would also require cabs be equipped with GPS, SunPass transponders and digital security cameras. The matter will be decided by the full county commission.