Lee County may deregulate taxis to level competition with rideshares

Lee County commissioners want to get rid of taxi regulations. They said cab services should have an even playing field with companies like Uber and Lyft.

Now, as stories of murder and sexual assault emerge all over the country, people may be losing faith in rideshare companies.

While Lee County holds taxicab companies to a much higher standard than ride-sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, the stance could change soon.

Brian Hamman, the commissioner for Lee County, said the Florida legislature had taken away the ability for the county to regulate Uber and Lyft.

For instance, taxi cab operators must go through extensive insurance and vehicle inspection checks with the county. The thoroughness puts taxi companies at a disadvantage.

“Taxi cabs might have to charge their customers more money in order to cover their government fees or pay for all the hoops I have to jump through,” Hamman said.

The commissioner wants to deregulate taxicab companies, believing they would lower fares. But Phillip Griffin, owner of Bluebird Taxi, said not so fast.

“It’s just going to be to where anybody wants to jump into a car and call themselves a taxi,” Griffin said. “It’s going to further dilute and increase the possibilities of problems.”

Griffin said because of regulations, his riders know every time they get into one of his taxicabs, they are safe.

Marshelle Sommers said that is not the case with Uber and Lyft.

“You don’t know who you’re getting in the car with so anyone can pull up and say there with Uber,” Sommers said.

Collier County has deregulated taxi cabs and officials told WINK News there had been no complaints. If Lee County does deregulate taxis, Sommers hopes the cab drivers will survive.

“I feel like those people actually do it as a full-time job,” Sommers said, “whereas people who Uber normally just do it on the side to make extra cash.”

“Certain amount of standards is necessary in the taxi business where people are getting into the car switch drivers don’t know,” Griffin said.

Writer:Michael Mora
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