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

Categories: Lifestyle

Uber's headway on breaking down the legislation, though steady, has been slow. The legislative vote was set for September 24, but this date now represents a discussion and workshop instead, with voting to come at a later date.

"Sosa decided that it wasn't going to be a vote," says Kalanick, referring to Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa of the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners. "She's a tough one, but she's empathetic to the people's needs. It can also get streamlined if there's political will. We need as many people talking to Sosa as possible."

But how much are Miamians willing to pay for convenience? Uber black car rates are approximately double those of taxis. The company's lower-cost option, UberX, would be unavailable in Miami even if the current legislation is abolished. Popular in many of Uber's other markets, UberX allows customers to request a ride that is 10 percent less expensive than a taxi, the drawback being that your driver might pick you up in anything from a Prius to a Honda Accord. It's practicality and economy with a little less luxury. First black cars, then UberX? Wishful thinking.

"[The new legislation] doesn't allow for UberX," Kalanick says. "Only luxury vehicles. Even this ordinance is trying to protect the taxi industry."

With at least three more BCC committee meetings to go before Uber hits the streets, Kalanick is getting antsy. "If it was an up-down vote tomorrow, it would pass," he says. He and his team are honing in on social media users, whom they've asked to tweet about their #UberMiamiLove. Kalanick's personal Instagram is a testament to Uber's battle with the BCC: His latest post is a photo of the South Beach coastline, captioned, "Miami, you're a gorgeous city, but if you're not ready for a commitment (to quality transportation) we may have to call it quits."

But Instagram aside, Kalanick shows no perceptible signs of letting up. A recent Google Ventures investment of $258 million is fueling the Uber fire, and if all goes according to his plan, Uber black cars could be on the road by November 1. The company launched its Miami presence in July with on-demand ice-cream trucks that cruised the streets from SoBe to the Gables, and Kalanick and his team are adamant that Uber is the face of a much-needed change in Miami transportation.

"It changes the way you think about your life," says Nairi Hourdajian, head of public policy and communications at Uber.

For now, Kalanick is back on the couch, conversing zealously with members of his Uber team. He suddenly hops up and turns to his guests. "I just wanna do this already!" he exclaims, exhilaration splashed across his face like a kid on Christmas Eve. Chairwoman Sosa is Santa, his social media followers are the elves, and Miami is his big, fat present.

Follow Morgan on Twitter @youcancallme_MO

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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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