Despite Progress on Ordinance, Ride-Sharing Still Illegal in Miami-Dade County
Miami-Dade County commissioners on Wednesday granted preliminary approval to a proposed ordinance that would legalize ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
The approval came after Commission Chair Jean Monestime unexpectedly withdrew a competing proposal before the commission meeting on Wednesday morning. Uber and its drivers had strongly opposed Monestime's proposal, which the company said would "make it impossible" to operate in Miami-Dade County.
Under the approved proposal, which was sponsored by Vice Chair Esteban Bovo, drivers for ride-sharing companies would not need a chauffeur’s license and would only need chauffeur's insurance when transporting passengers. Ride-sharing companies also could conduct their own background checks on drivers, rather than relying on the county to conduct the checks.
"We really appreciate Chairman Monestime's commitment to working with Vice Chair Bovo on creating a permanent framework for ride-sharing in Miami-Dade," said Kasra Moshkani, the general manager for Uber in South Florida. Well over 100 Uber supporters attended the commission meeting and registered to speak during the public comment period, but after hearing of Monestime's decision to withdraw his proposal, they nominated Moshkani to speak for them all.
Numerous taxi drivers also attended the meeting to support Monestime's proposal. They're concerned increased competition from ride-sharing companies will cut into their profits and wages.
"It's too much to operate here," said driver Goseph Duc-Albert. The father of two said he's still trying to pay off the debt he incurred when he purchased a taxi medallion from the county, and that some days he only takes home $50.
"Uber [doesn't] pay anything... and I don't get my money back," Duc-Albert said.
Bovo's proposed ordinance includes efforts to lessen restrictions on taxi drivers and make it easier for cab companies to compete with ride-sharing companies. Among other measures, taxi companies would be able to conduct their own driver background checks and taxi drivers would no longer have to complete a chauffeur registration process with the county.
Because no ordinance was passed on final reading Wednesday, ride-sharing services are still illegal in Miami-Dade County. But commissioners plan to participate in a workshop about the proposed ordinance in the next few weeks before voting on it in March or April.
Caitlin Granfield contributed reporting.