Proposed Palm Beach County Rules Could Cause Uber To Hit The Road

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by Caitlin Ostroff Jul 22, 2015 03:37 PM

Less than a month after Uber announced it would be leaving Broward County, the ride-hailing company may have hit an obstacle with operation in Palm Beach County.

At a Palm Beach County Commission meeting Tuesday, commissioners decided not to ease background check and insurance requirements for Uber. They want to hold Uber to the same standards to which taxi and limousine companies are held.

The new regulations, to be discussed Aug. 18, would require Uber drivers to be fingerprinted and undergo a background check. Commissioners are also asking that Uber drivers have insurance coverage as commercial drivers.

Currently, a third party completes background checks for Uber after the company receives a potential driver’s information. Uber also provides up to $1 million in insurance for shared rides.

An Uber representative called the county’s conditions “onerous,” but it’s unlikely officials will have a change of heart, County Administrator Robert Weisman said.

“The County Commission thinks Uber should abide by their rules,” he said. “I don’t think they’re going to budge.”

This difference of opinion could potentially lead to Uber pulling out of an agreement with Palm Beach County, Weisman said.

Uber was approved to temporarily operate in Palm Beach County from March 10 through Sept. 30. Under the temporary agreement, Uber does not face any regulations on background checks or insurance.

“We think the temporary operating agreement is working,” an Uber official said. “We’re going to continue talking to the commission.”

But letting Uber operate temporarily has caused problems for the county, Weisman said, bringing up the lawsuits filed by companies in the taxi industry.

Should Uber not reach a compromise with Palm Beach County, cities could potentially work out their own agreements with Uber as some have considered doing in Broward County.

The cities of Palm Beach County have not agreed to the ordinance, Weisman said. This leaves room for them to potentially partner with Uber, although no cities have mentioned that yet.