Taxi Drivers Ask For Equal Rights: 'Since Uber Came To Miami-Dade County We Lost Everything'
Miami-Dade County taxi drivers protested Tuesday outside Government Center Station in Downtown Miami, for equal rights as they compete with new ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
Since companies like Uber and Lyft started legal operations in Miami-Dade County last May, cabbies have struggled to keep up with what they call cheaper and more unregulated competition.
“Since Uber came to Miami-Dade County we lost everything,” Jean Jules, a single father of two and taxicab driver in Miami, said.
Jules joined nearly two dozen protesters who held signs criticizing Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who is in a run-off election next month to keep his job.
Raymond Francois is part of the non-profit organization New Vision Drivers Association of Florida Inc. that helped organize Tuesday’s protests and several others previously. He said local commissioners are doing very little to address the issue.
“We’re going to have an election very soon to elect people to represent us, but the way they operate, they don’t protect us,” Francois said.
To better “protect” them, taxi drivers say local politicians like Gimenez should do more to address what the cabbies call the unlimited permits, scant oversight and cheaper fares the ride-sharing firms enjoy.
Meenah Jagannath, an attorney for the New Vision Drivers Association of Florida Inc. and a co-founder of Community Justice Project, is helping cabbies apply pressure on local commissioners.
“Taxicab drivers have to pay a middleman. How can they compete when they also need to pay to lease a medallion?” Jagannath asks. “It makes it harder to set these drivers up for success.”