Uber, an App-Based Car Service, Fights to Change Miami's Transportation Laws

Categories: Lifestyle

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Not quite yet, Miami.
Travis Kalanick is a very busy man. Sitting on an overstuffed couch in the library of the Soho Beach House, the CEO of the San Francisco-based "digital dispatch" app Uber is feverishly typing away on his phone, in the midst of handling affairs at his rapidly growing startup. He rises to greet his cocktail reception patrons and smiles broadly.

"We need to have [Uber] cars here for [Art] Basel," he says. "It's gonna be a shit show."

If all goes Kalanick's way, that's what'll happen: Uber will bring its private car service to Miami, whisking locals away at a moment's notice. But the company is up against some daunting roadblocks. Uber is what Kalanick refers to as a "populace limo service," and he and his team are fighting Miami's existing transportation laws to bring their services to Dade County.

See also: Uber, a Text-Message Car Service, Might Come to Miami

If Kalanick is victorious, Miami residents can have a private car en route with the touch of a smartphone button. How very transpo-forward. If not, the company will have to move on to another town.

Imagine this: You're stranded in no man's land without a cab in sight. You open the Uber app, choose your vehicle du jour based on proximity (check the ever-updating map, complete with estimated arrival times), and order up. The GPS on your smartphone lets your driver know where you are even if you don't. The service gives you a call when your driver is nearby, which, if Uber gets the kind of circulation in Miami that it has in 35 other cities across the country, shouldn't be more than 15 minutes. Your credit card is uploaded to the app upon downloading it, so no need to touch your wallet when you arrive at your destination. According to Kalanick, it's a cashless cab alternative made easy.

So what's the holdup? Behold, limo laws, designed in part to protect taxi services. According to the Uber blog, the company is in a bit of a rut as far as Miami-Dade legislation goes. For starters, there's a one-hour minimum wait time rule for private cars. If you order one at 4:06 p.m., you can't legally enter the car until 5:06 p.m., effectively defeating the usefulness of the insta-ordering system that is Uber. Price points are also an issue: Any sort of private car transport currently requires a $70 price minimum, no matter the distance. Doling out a paycheck for a piggyback seems a little much.

And finally, there's a limit of town-car licenses in Miami-Dade (625 to be exact). Kalanick argues that eliminating this cap could create thousands of jobs, as Uber's driver positions are open to application for anyone. "They go through a background check, city knowledge test, and professional assessment," Kalanick says. "Partners drive their own cars." That makes Uber, essentially, a middleman. It's the connection between the partners (third-party vehicle owners and car companies) and their riders, or as Uber puts it, a "digital dispatch scheme."


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26 comments
DaveBobSutton
DaveBobSutton

Uber operates a limo business, yet stubbornly maintains it is merely a technology company. It uses this narrow self-definition to avoid responsibility. For example, Uber passengers, upon downloading the app, agree to hold Uber harmless for anything that happens on the ride.

No legitimate limousine company would attempt to avoid responsibility like this.

Nicole Bentley
Nicole Bentley

This needs to be regulated, just like the limo industry has been for years! @AventuraLimo writes : Think about what you will be doing to Miami if this ordinance is passed the way it is currently written! On September 24 an ordinance before the Miami - Dade Commissioners will be on the docket to pass a smart phone app (Über) that allows you to order car service and have a car available to you within minutes. Sounds perfect for Miami Tourism right? Well let's looks at Uber's disclaimer : the company itself states: "By using this application and service you maybe exposed to transportation that is potentially dangerous, offensive, harmful for Minors, unsafe or otherwise objectionable, and that you use this application at your own risk" Über has no drug or alcohol testing for their drivers, which means the driver that will show up to your door maybe totally impaired and will be driving you or your loved ones. Uber also has (2) documented rape cases by their drivers on file in circuit courts - Will this be ok for our young people that will use this app on their smart phones after a night of clubbing on South Beach? Why would we allow the risk??? The cars that are dispatched maybe up to (4) years old and you never know what type of car will show up, you have NO choices. They will be hiring people that are out of work, no driving experience and absolutely no customer service - so you will get just a ride period - and if you are going to the airport prepare to handle your own luggage. Is this the Miami tourism image we need to project ? As we speak, Los Angeles, Dallas and Denver have banned or 'cease and desist' Uber operations in these major cities. It will eliminate thousands of jobs of people that have work many years and countless hours to make transportation in Miami a way of lifestyle. We are not a New York City, we need to show everyone the experience and ambiance of the Miami style culture by keeping our roadways safe - my children and grand children as well as yours are on these roads everyday.

mayachild
mayachild

what Kathleen responded I am alarmed that some one can profit $4827 in 4 weeks on the computer. go to my blog== > w­w­w.B­a­y­9­3.ℂ­ℴℳ

Truth
Truth

Do  one month as a taxi driver in Miami and see what you deal with, And while your at it google uber driver complaints and see what they deal with . What will work is hiring more inspectors.

sertnaccire1
sertnaccire1

Do  one month as a taxi driver in Miami and see what you deal with, And while your at it google uber driver complaints and see that they wont work. What will work is hiring more inspectors adidos!

sertnaccire1
sertnaccire1

Do  one month as a taxi driver in Miami and see what you deal with, And while your at it google uber driver complaints and see that they wont work. What will work is hiring more inspectors adidos!

editengine
editengine

Über works wonderfully well in DC. Cab drivers that signed on tell me they never made so much money. When I get a black car it runs no more than $2-$3 more than a cab ride. More money for drivers, better for consumers. Just who is the taxi commission protecting?

NJ Gilbert
NJ Gilbert

I hope so. The traffic , is hurting business.

loonetunes
loonetunes

Why not move towards the trend of healthy and green lifestyles that other major cities are grasping; Bicycles. I'm not aware of the laws for bicycles as public trans services but I will be even less costly which leaves more room for to spend on the passenger seating.

iran.gonzalez0311
iran.gonzalez0311

Great for the consumer and Über. This company has no investment in the actual cost of operating the vehicles, vehicles that had to operate under the rules established by the county along with the high expense of getting the permits and insurance required through private sales. The reason for that was because the county established a number and then did not issue any more permits. What is being proposed just isn't right, sit down and work out a way that both can work, but issuing a whole bunch of operating permits at a fraction of cost that others had to pay to operate for uber to operate in Miami just isn't right and another example of how big business is allowed to stomp on the small business owner. Changing the one hour wait is fine and it is also ok that Über operates here, but to undermine what hard working people invested in to start a transportation company and devalue the permits and business out from under them isn't what are local government should be doing to help out a company that is backed by the financial strength of Google which isn't local would be a big injustice.

Stefanie Arufe
Stefanie Arufe

Of course!!! Uber, can't wait for your inevitable Miami arrival. #UberMiamiLove

Jorge Shicken
Jorge Shicken

the city of miami beach should burn down city hall and start from scratch

Mike Worley
Mike Worley

Uber will force the taxi industry in Miami to adapt to consumer needs (ya know, like a clean car with air condition, credit card processors, and a cabby who speaks a little english)

miamitrev2
miamitrev2 topcommenter

2  (paid?)  shills in the first 3 comments .  Awesome

TheeBlog
TheeBlog

Hope everything goes well. Miami needs Uber.

eepurl
eepurl

It's not about Rebeca, it's about the Ambassador Cab proposal spearheaded by the airport/aviation director, which competes with Uber's preferred reforms. You gotta get the airport director to buy-in and integrate it with the Ambassador Cab proposal.

DavidDennis
DavidDennis

@iran.gonzalez0311 Having limited permits is great for taxi drivers, but I don't see it as being in any way good for consumers.  Having to pay $1.80 per 1/4 mile seems outrageous to me.  Lower fares would mean more people would use cabs.  Right now, I wouldn't be caught dead in one, they just don't offer good or even acceptable value for money.

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