Support SB340: Make Sure Ride-sharing Services have a Place in Florida

SB 340 would prevent local governments from regulating "transportation network companies" such as Uber and Lyft and would adopt a uniform, common sense law focused on safety and access to the new technology.

It makes no sense that 67 counties and 410 municipalities would create their own set of regulations, which would make it impossible for ride-share drivers to comply as they serve neighboring cities and counties.

This legislation establishes common-sense guidelines throughout the state, and allows people in Florida to continue benefiting from ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft and allow affordable, reliable rides.

TAKE ACTION

SB 340 will have its second reading on the Senate Floor this Tuesday April 18th, 2017 and could receive an up or down vote by the full Senate this week.

Call and e-mail your district Representative and tell them to support SB 340.

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  • commented 2017-04-19 08:44:05 -0400
    Joseph Daniels

    Kissimmee, Florida 34747 District 15
    407-479-8611
    gerbertransportation@gmail.com
    April 15th 2017
    To all Florida Senators
    Re: SB340 and SB212
    respectively
    Senators,
    I am compelled today to write to you all in regards to the two bills mentioned above, that you have or are about to vote yes on. As a Rideshare “Partner” since 2014 and a Livery driver for 2 years here in Orlando Florida, I must tell you what you are about to agree to. The hundreds of thousands of lives and families you are about to decimate should you vote yes and not consider first, the driver’s side of things.
    In 2014 Uber made its landfall here in Orlando and at the time it seemed to be a blessing in disguise, as they came in under the guise as “champions” for the community of drivers and users being fleeced by the status quo. Rideshare came at a time when Independent drivers (ripe for the plucking) sitting on hotel curbs, working for stands and those working tirelessly for large companies needed a break. A break from the exorbitant fees and unfair practices of the industry. Many of you may or may not know or have chosen to turn a blind eye on how Transportation in Orlando or your municipality works. As for Orlando, One must agree (through contract) with the City and County laws in regards to; Registering your LLC with the State. Background checks, deposits for city and county permits (where applicable) Then there are the costs associated with, Permits and deposits for the airport, monthly “dwell charges” (which in some of our cases exceeds$800-per month) also Deposits for, permits, and fees for Port Canaveral Cruise Terminal. In addition to these huge costs mentioned, there are costs associated with vehicle maintenance, commercial insurance, gas, advertising, websites, annual renewals and taxes etc. None of which Uber pays for, or helps drivers acquire. They continue to hide behind the rhetoric that they “are not a transportation company.” However, when you choose to “partner” with Independent Commercial Drivers, you’ve now changed the whole dynamics of the relationship. It was bad enough already when they convinced previously unemployed people, looking for gainful work to “partner with Uber” claiming they could earn upwards of $1,000 per week, only to be swindled by their tactics; and compound the problem by consistently lowering prices way below a liveable wage.
    Three years ago or so, Uber bogarted it’s way into Florida breaking every law put into place to protect its Visitors, Customers, and purveyors. Disregarding every single rule of law put into place by folks like you. Laws to protect, laws to prevent price gouging, laws to ensure people are able to earn a fair wage. Instead, Uber was “allowed” to proliferate into every county within the State of Florida with some resistance in some municipalities. Uber’s blitzkrieg through the country and state showed from the very beginning the company’s values and lack of ethics. This blatant disregard for Florida’s laws was only a foreshadowing of what was to come. As a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Uber’s mantra was and continues to be “how they are improving the lives of people” They continue to spew forth the lie that THEY have improved transportation safety for thousands of Floridians; worked with local governments, businesses, and community organizations to enhance mobility; and created new opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs.” The jobs that they’ve created, the lives they’ve changed, all has come at a price for hundreds of thousands of drivers. This cost cannot be quantified or justified on any human scale. The idea of Rideshare in of itself is not a harmful thing, what is being played out to your constituents who currently drive/partner with Uber is disgusting beyond words. To think that some of you are considering these 2 bills without talking to the drivers first is inconceivable.
    Every County has laws or mandates in regards to what a Taxi or livery company can charge for its services. In the city of Orlando, the “minimum” is $2.40 a mile for cabs/taxis. Livery drivers can charge as high as $4.26 per mile and not more than $20 hr. Upon entering the marketplace Uber’s price point was $1.45. The city of Orlando objected to this pricing structure from the beginning and as a result began going after anyone driving for Rideshare companies, picking up for less than the city mandate and without permits. Uber’s response to this was to push drivers to continue to break the law and push the line further back by enticing drivers to continue to break those laws by paying any towing or impound fees and offering incentives to work those “high risk” areas where one was prone to be ticketed, towed or both.
    Lying to drivers that they were not breaking the law and that they “have the right” to pick up anywhere, as they are not obligated to follow antiquated laws put in place for Taxi companies. Subsequently, to gain more traction Uber dropped its pricing to $1.15 to which they stated “this would help generate more rides” (amidst thousands of complaints about the companies multiplier effect cleverly called (“Surge-Pricing”) Another clever scheme devised by Uber to fleece its users and “herd” drivers into high risk “high demand areas” As if the price drop to $1.15 per mile before Uber’s fees, tolls, operating costs and maintenance was not a hard enough “kick in the gut” to already struggling “Partners” Uber again dropped their rates to a staggering $0.65 cents per mile. Fooling drivers and passengers by telling them that the dropped fares were for a limited time “New Rates Available For A Limited Time” but never returning them back to what they previously were. It is inconceivable to think that anyone driving for a Taxi company, Livery company or for Rideshare hailing service could earn a living at $0.65 cents a mile.
    A driver driving 400 plus miles a day at $0.65-per mile can HOPE to earn $100-$150 a day before Uber takes its cut, tolls, gas and vehicle maintenance are deducted.
    During this time The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority filed a pending lawsuit against uber to cease and desist all Uber pickup’s from the Orlando International Airport, which one could only speculate happened mostly in part to revenue loss and security concerns; to which Uber was forced to comply. Drivers were now forced to find better “grazing grounds” and began bombarding the local theme parks and vacation areas, to which more towing and fines ensued. Asking drivers to pay out of pocket the $17 needed for drop offs each time and then submitting receipts,(to hopefully receive reimbursement)In recent months the company’s lack of ethical leadership has continued to decay under their pompous leader, Travis Kalanick. The company has been plagued with lawsuits and complaints about sexual misconduct, Cheating riders and drivers ( through a special software or algorithm called greyball ) which is/was used to “identify government authorities and reroute Uber drivers away from them. It was part of a strategy to keep “undesirables” out of its cars, and it was used in numerous cities and nations around the world. In addition, As Uber expanded its service into new cities and countries, the availability of Uber’s lower-cost service often was a threat to the revenue streams of established taxi services”.
    Why our esteemed Senators, Governors, Mayors and leadership in their respective districts would entertain “climbing into bed” with such a promiscuous and wicked partner is beyond our comprehension. Most(not all)of what is happening to anyone who is unlucky to enter into a “partnership” to “drive with Uber” is happening to powerless immigrants who Uber continues to bullyrag with threats of “app deactivation” accusations of “fraud” and possibly diminished rider requests with their infamous “greyball” software. More on “greyball” here
    As if this were not enough, Uber found a clever way to circumvent the Orlando International Airport’s potential lawsuit by “partnering” with Livery drivers like myself through their program called “Uber Black” We were told that if we’d like to participate in the program we would need specific vehicles (namely high-end SUVs and Sedans) Many of your citizens who already had such vehicles and necessary permits and commercial insurance, were asked to come down to a “Green-Light” event to be activated immediately, to start taking advantage of UBER’s clever scheme. Some not being told that their vehicles were getting ready to “age-out” or, of the company’s short-term goal to pull a bait and switch on the drivers, by revising the “approved vehicles” list one year later to include low-end vehicles. Those with “aged out” vehicles would have to go out and get a more recent year if they wanted to continue to operate at the airport. Under the then pricing structure of $2.40-per mile $0.45 cents per minute for a Sedan requests and $2.65-per mile $0.55 cents per minute for SUV, drivers were compelled to acquiesce, being that driving was there only “profession.”
    At this pricing structure, like myself many were manipulated into new loans for very expensive vehicles by this “aging out process” Fearful of going back to the streets to drive for sub-par fares, sometimes unachievable incentives and payouts which included toll reimbursement (which was and is still added back to the payout to “pad” the earnings) When it became common knowledge that drivers were buying their inventory for the “Uber Black” program, even the used car dealerships got into the game and began charging exorbitant prices for used Black on Black vehicles which was a non-negotiable stipulation from UBER’s 2015 “approved vehicles list” (except for some very high end vehicles Bentley, Tesla,Audi etc)
    In 2015 due to no fault of the drivers, customers booking a ride from the Orlando International Airport were wrongly charged in excess of $20 in Tolls by Uber, in the form of Airport and highway tolls, which Uber charged back to the tune of hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars to individual drivers by deducting monies from their “driver accounts” as they earned money; all in the form of “chargebacks”
    In 2016 Just before Hurricane Matthew, In less than 24 hours, We were given notice via Email that Uber was not only changing the classification of the Program from “Uber Black” to “Uber Select,” but also the prices were going to be significantly reduced. In addition, vehicles that were not previously approved were now going to be allowed to operate on the program, ie. Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, This was and is a clear case of “bait and switch” I and many of my fellow Livery Drivers are now on the hook for these cars we were told were the only option available to operate on the platform. I personally went and took my Spouse’s 2008 Toyota Highlander in as a trade for one of the vehicles on their “approved vehicles list” and gave her my 2011 Toyota Highlander, as per Uber I could not continue to use it on their Program at the airport.
    There was an immediate cause and effect when this egregious bait and switch took place. Drivers like myself sleeping overnight in their cars for months in the First in First Out Zone (FIFO queue) “bound” like animals, by invisible chains to remain within the Geofence so as to receive rider requests, to continue earning enough money to pay for these expensive “required” vehicles. With wait times in excess of 4-5 hours at times, for short rides that would take us just out of the FIFO zone only to put you at the end of the queue. Imagine sitting in sweltering 90-degree plus heat in an area the size of four football fields, with hundreds of other cars, Taxis and Motor Coaches for hours on end just to make your living every day. This area was never designed for long waits and the number of cars that began using it.
    I personally (like many others) have slept in my car for months, while my children suffered for the lack of my presence. Many formed “teams” and rented rooms in nearby hotels, just to remain in the Geo-Fence so that they too could continue to earn a living. Even though we pleaded with Uber through numerous emails about our plight, we always received the same robotic-rhetoric. In a last ditch effort to maximize their availability, some drivers even moved their families into apartments located just within the FIFO Zone which was finally expanded back to include areas just north of the Airport property Purple area labeled “EXPANDED FIFO AREA” This was done after I was finally able to personally speak to a human being about what was happening in the then current FIFO area of the Airport. With UBER’s historical price dropping and unethical tactics, as drivers we already know what to expect if you push these bills through without considering the impact it will have on not only the “uber airport” drivers, but ALL uber drivers across Florida on all platforms (Uber-x Uber-XL, Uber-Select, Uber-Black, LUX, LUX-SUV) respectively.
    We (drivers everywhere) are NOT opposed to Rideshare in Florida and in their respective communities however, what we are opposed to are the unfair business tactics UBER has adopted to coerce, manipulate, deceive, defraud hard working Americans until they capitulate and “go with the flow” Companies like UBER should not dictate to you, Senators… Protectors of the Public, Defenders of your Municipalities… Keepers of the law… how to run your districts. You are “for the people by the people”, not “for big lobbyist’s and their big bank accounts”
    We (drivers everywhere) are NOT opposed to Rideshare, but the pricing has to be in line with current Taxi pricing across all product platforms eg. Orlando’s mandate is $2.40 per mile. Uber-X and Lyft cannot be $0.65 per mile. This will “kill” the transportation industry, creating a NEW MONOPOLY and in the process destroy the lives of those who depend on it as their only source of income. Before Rideshare, Taxis were the only choice; sometimes smelly, dirty, and shifty drivers. Now with the push of a button, it is easier to hail a clean car for transportation to go home or for an outing. However… UBER and Lyft are now becoming like the same industry they seek to replace, Smelly, Dirty, Shifty and highly unethical in many cases!
    Customers will always want the cheapest price possible for any service or product that has value BUT AT WHAT COST?! $150 sneakers made in some third world country, by poor families; Families that walk barefoot to work daily. Couture clothes made by children who will never be able to afford what they make themselves… when will it end? You’ve heard from the consumer, it’s now time to hear from the drivers. The people who make Rideshare POSSIBLE. If we all decided we’ve had enough, Rideshare is dead. What is happening is egregious and disgusting, as voters we are depending on you to look at this bill from all facets. In its current state here in Orlando, Livery drivers who have partnered with UBER MUST remain within the airport zone to receive requests, Once away from the airport the only requests coming in are for Uber-x at $0.65-per mile. Working for $0.65-per mile in a gas guzzling SUV or high-end Luxury Sedan is not sustainable. Working for $0.65 per-mile period is not sustainable. Those who are unlucky enough to still be paying high fees at hotel stands can only watch as multiple low-cost Uber’s pull up and leave while they sit in the heat languishing, waiting for a customer to use their service. Like may of the drivers across this Great State of Florida and in your Municipalities, I am a registered voter. We are asking… begging you to do the right thing here. Rideshare is good, but only if it benefits all involved.
    Sincerely,
    Joseph Daniels
    District 15
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