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Transportation Commission Head Found Working with Cab Companies

By HANNAH FARROW

The controversy between Uber and Lyft and Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission is still in full force. Kyle Cockream, the executive director of the PTC, was caught working with the Yellow Cab Co. of Tampa and Kings Executive Limo and Car Service, as discovered in email. He was helping to lure Uber and Lyft drivers into areas where PTC enforcement officers were handing out $700 fines on May 1, according to an article published in the Tampa Bay Times. Cockream declined to comment on the situation.

Whether this information will affect the monthly PTC meeting on Nov. 9 is unknown.

The meeting is at 9 a.m., held in the second floor boardroom at County Center 601 East Kennedy Boulevard. The meeting is open to the public and will discuss the Temporary Operating Agreement that will allow Lyft and Uber to operate outside of Hillsborough County’s rules.

Before the evidence came out, Cockream said that Uber and Lyft defy the proposed rules set by several public workshops that define the Transportation Network Companies (TNC). They have asked and been afforded a hearing at the November meeting. There, the PTC can vote to adapt the proposed rules, amend the current rules, or veto the proposed rules entirely.

“It’s important to know that while neither Uber or Lyft like the proposed rules, they could operate within them as they are doing in other jurisdictions across the country,” Cockream said. “In the Austin, TX market, there are now 11 TNC’s operating legally within rules that are almost identical to the rules being proposed at our November meeting.”

The Commission wants to attract new businesses due to their free and open market. Whether that includes Lyft and Uber is up to the companies themselves, Cockream said.

“We are also making efforts to invite the 11 new TNC’s now operating in Austin, TX to come to Tampa,” Cockream said. “We feel the competition will drive the price down, and make more choices available to consumers without sacrificing their safety.”

Javi Correoso handles the public affairs for Uber and explained the reasoning behind why Uber does not require fingerprints.

“When we have drivers go through the screening process, we require their driver’s license and social security number, which gives us access to courthouses, municipal records, state records, and matches information with the sexual offender nation registry and looks at their driving record,” Correoso said. “Fingerprints only tend to give someone an arrest. It won’t tell the status of the court case, only that they were arrested.”

The Tampa community is getting involved. The Lightning hockey team has created an area for Uber pick up at Amelie Arena. The Oxford Exchange created a website, www.tampadeservesuber.com, to fight the PTC.

“With the proof that the PTC is working hand in hand with the cab industry is very concerning,” Correoso said. “They’ve adopted regulations that don’t give Uber and Lyft opportunities in the market.”

The best case scenario is that the PTC passes regulatory ride sharing in Hillsborough County, Correoso said.

“I just don’t trust the cab companies cause usually they’re old pervy men,” said Taylor Braun, a senior public health major. “I’m hoping Uber can stay in Tampa. They’re such a beneficial form of transportation for people who don’t have cars.”

Hannah Farrow can be reached at hannah.farrow@spartans.ut.edu.

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