UPDATE: The Miami-Dade County Commission has canceled the May 19th workshop on ride-sharing, but most expect the meeting to be rescheduled.
There’s a big legal gray area in Florida when it comes to ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber. Technically they’re operating illegally, but local counties have turned a blind eye to their operations, which in Miami are now hitting the one-year mark.
From Pensacola to Key West, the ride-sharing company Uber announced that its app-based service -- specifically its lower cost "uberX" service -- will now be available in dozens of new locations around Florida including Naples, Sarasota, Fort Myers and the Florida Keys.
"Now we’re nearly everywhere in Florida," an announcement claimed on the company's blog. "As of today, over 82 percent of Floridians have access to Uber!"
About 56 years ago, in a county devoid of apps, smartphones and cars with pink fluffy mustaches, there lived a taxi industry that didn't rely on Miami-Dade County regulations.
That taxi industry without regulations is long gone, but ride-sharing apps Lyft and UberX are here -- and they're trying their best to stay. The smartphone-based companies connect users with drivers, and like Miami's old taxis, they don't rely on county regulations.
The Board of County Commissioner’s transportation and aviation committee met this week to talk taxis, Uber and Lyft. The ride-sharing apps have been facing resistance from the taxi industry and some county commissioners.
“I have a problem with companies coming into the area and setting up shop when they’ve been told that what they’re doing is illegal,” said Dennis Moss, chairman of the committee.
Ride-sharing app Lyft has been operating illegally in Miami-Dade County for a little over two weeks now, and the app's directors and lobbyist Jorge Luis Lopez are trying to resolve their legality issue.
They are working on new model legislation that seeks to make room for apps like Lyft in county code. If the Board of County Commissioners approves, the service has the potential to become legal.