Uber And Lyft Are Facing A New Threat In Florida As Taxi Companies File Fresh Lawsuit

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Florida taxi companies are suing the state to impose further regulations on ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft. The lawsuit follows a host of cases across the country of established taxi interests attempting to use the courts to halt the rise of Uber.

Taxi firms in Tallahassee and Broward County are taking the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to court alleging that the app used by companies like Uber to calculate fares is equivalent to a taxi meter and should be subject to the same approval tests to ensure their fares are accurate.

In a 96-page lawsuit, the plaintiffs say “they both are necessary to compute the time and distance associated with a commercial passenger trip taken in a taxicab or a private car utilized by a [ride-sharing company] driver, in order to determine the customer’s fare.”

“However, one is tested and certified by the Department of Agriculture and the other is not.” To press the point, the lawsuit used a case from April of a woman in Brooklyn who was charged $16,000 for a ride to Manhattan. The charge was never actually levied and Uber said it was a mistake.

Taxi companies Capitol Transportation and B & L Services argue they are at a competitive disadvantage as they have to abide by the DACS regulations surrounding taxi meters.

But the taxi firms aren’t just asking for the DACS to approve ride-sharing software but also to levy charges on transportation network companies that help operate the ride-sharing systems. The app on Uber and Lyft drivers’ phones uses GPS to measure the time and distance of rides and then calculate the fare.

Just one hour after the lawsuit was submitted, Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds issued an order asking the department to explain why he shouldn’t agree to the taxi plaintiffs demands. The judge gave the department 20 days to respond.

Similar cases have not just been seen in the U.S. but also across the world. In 2014, more than 12,000 taxi drivers across Europe took to the streets to protest against the lack of regulation placed upon Uber. London was the centre point of the protests.

The complaints of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association mirrored those of the Florida taxi companies, arguing that Uber is not compliant with laws regarding taximeters and that the company was operating outside the law.

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