Previously I wrote about how the city of Orlando went to war with Uber. The ride-sharing service – along with Lyft – finally had their big day at City Hall. And the outcome was…
The tech upstarts can stay. Temporarily. Sort of.
The Orlando City Council, working into the night, gave them temporary approval to continue their services, but with caveats. A new category called “livery vehicles” will require them to pay fees which include $500 for a vehicle permit, $50 for a vehicle inspection, $25 for a driver permit, and another $25 for a background check. The primary objections to these fees are that Uber/Lyft already pay for vehicle inspections and background checks. Otherwise, they seem to be in agreement.
However, there are two main problem areas. First, they will not be allowed to pick up passengers at the airport. This is actually a separate action brought by
the Orlando Airport Authority who is threatening an injunction. Like other airports around the country, Orlando wants to have these companies pay the same airport use fees as taxi drivers. Once more, this is about money, not alleged safety.
Easily the most disturbing provision is that the City Council wants Uber and Lyft to charge their riders 25% more than taxis fares. In a minor modification, the city agreed that this extra fee would only apply to the first twenty dollars. After that, they may charge whatever they like. This would not be a big deal if these new livery services could pick up passengers at the airport because nearly every fare exceeds this limit. On the other hand, minor transactions inside the city will make the tech firms highly non-competitive.
There will be a second public hearing and once again, you can be sure Uber and Lyft will rally their supporters for another standing-room only event. Expect more t-shirt giveaways, a few rally speeches, and some distinguished speakers supporting their cause.
Meanwhile, the Orlando Business Journal conducted a poll on this subject and nearly 8 out of 10 respondents say that Orlando “seems unfriendly to new technology.” Okay, the ride-sharing services seem to have the public on their side; now they just need to convince the politicians. In the end, as I have said all along, this is all about money.
Stay tuned … the Uber saga is sure to continue.