By Glenn Garvin
Ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft will be legal in Miami-Dade County by the end of the year, Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Monday, while “a substantial part” of the taxi industry will be deregulated.
“Demand is too great” for the ride-sharing companies, Gimenez said. “You're not going to put that genie back in the bottle.... I'm not going to drag Uber and Lyft back into the 20th century. I think the taxi industry has to move into the 21st.”
Gimenez made his remarks following a press conference where the New York-based company ZabCab unveiled a new app that will allow customers to summon regular taxis with a single tap on their smart phones, one of the popular features of the ride-sharing companies.
Ride-sharing companies, which hook up passengers with freelance drivers via cellphone technology, are technically illegal in Miami-Dade. But, after drawing a blizzard of traffic tickets when they first set up shop in the county in the spring of 2014, they've operated more or less openly for the past year.
Broward and Palm Beach counties, after similar tumult, took steps this summer to legalize the ride-"sharing companies. And Gimenez said he's going to follow the same path.
At the same time, he added, he'll push for measures to expand the regular taxi force by ditching restrictions on how many cabs can operate in Miami-Dade and who can drive them. Under current law, the size of the taxi fleet is capped and each cab must have a permit — medallion, in industry jargon — that can cost as much as $300,000.
“We're going to do something about the numbers and we're going to do something about the medallions, these kind of things,” Gimenez said. “There are issues that have to be overcome. The owners had to purchase those medallions, so we have to figure out, how do we deal with that?”
“We're going to look at the rest of the country and see how they've changed their regulations. Uber and Lyft will shortly be legal in Broward and Palm Beach — that's my understanding — and we want to see how they're dealing with it.”