In what is expected to be quite the show for spectators and stakeholders, the Palm Beach County Commission will meet tomorrow to discuss the future of Uber and the future of other similar tech companies serving Palm Beach County. County commissioners have been in bed with the traditional taxi and limousine business industry for years and Uber has presented a credible threat to their old, obsolete business model. Rather than embrace the change, in February county commissioners introduced an ordinance to force livery drivers to pass an invasive background check even though the prior system was proven to be reliable. The effect of this and other aspects of the new regulation would be less Uber and Lyft drivers on the road, diminishing service to county residents. Many drivers and potential drivers do not want to be fingerprinted for privacy reasons and the extra cost involved, not because they have anything to hide, as what was suggested by one commissioner.
Uber has not backed down to the commissioner’s new and arduous regulation, promising to stop doing business in the county at the end of their temporary operating agreement which expires at the end of September. Uber called Broward County commissioner’s bluff last month, leaving the county, only for those county commissioners to deal with the wrath of very unhappy residents. Broward County is now reconsidering their heavy regulation in favor of a more free market solution.
Specifically, this past February, Palm Beach County Commissioners passed an ordinance that livery drivers must pass a “level 2” background check which would need to go through the government, even though “level 1” background checks (done through private companies) have proven effective for decades. County commissioners have offered no proof of the necessity for the extra background checks which cost drivers more money and are more intrusive resulting in less Uber and Lyft drivers available to service residents. County commissioners have consistently and often spoken about the need to protect the safety of the public, yet there has been no evidence shown the public is at risk or that the public would be better protected with the additional government regulation. Uber has stated it will not comply with the heavy regulation the county is demanding. The county commission, contrary to their public comments, has proven that it is more interested in protecting and serving the livery industry in Palm Beach County, instead of its constituents.