Statewide Poll Shows Floridians Against Giving Uber “Free Ride”
A statewide poll of more than 3,000 Floridians released today found that 78% of Floridians believe the transportation provider and ride sharing mobile app company Uber should be regulated the same as taxis and other transportation providers. The poll, commissioned by Mears Transportation Group and supported by the Florida Taxicab Association asked Floridians for their opinions on the vehicle-for-hire industry, laws that regulate the industry and specifically how they felt about Uber’s business model.
Uber and other ridesharing or “network” companies’ business plan relies heavily on changing or ignoring local regulations – regulations designed to protect consumers and ensure service to all citizens.
Ironically, one of the most interesting findings in the poll relates to Uber’s business model, in that Uber fails to even OFFER service to approximately 50 percent of the public. This figure is predicated on the fact that Uber requires smartphones and credit cards in order to sign up and utilize their service.
“Based on my review of the polling data, statewide, about half of those polled would be unable to use the UBER service,” said Dr. James Wright, the Provost’s Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Central Florida. “The UBER-ineligible Floridians are disproportionately Hispanic (59%) and African American (55%), low income (70% not eligible among those earning less than 25K per year vs. 26% in the highest income group), and the elderly (64% not eligible among those 65 and older).”
Other important findings from the poll:
· 83% think Uber should be required to license their drivers the same as the taxi industry;
· 92% want Uber to carry traditional liability insurance like taxis and other transportation providers;
· 83% think Uber should serve ALL customers without discrimination;
· 69% believe Uber’s fares (what they charge passengers) should be regulated to always be the same instead of the controversial “price surging” that the company employs, charging higher rates during inclement weather or a sporting events;
· 89% think Uber drivers should have to go through the same background checks that local taxi drivers must complete; and
· 78% of Floridians believe Uber should adhere to the same regulations that taxis must go through on the local level.
Uber representatives recently lobbied the Florida Senate Transportation Committee for statewide legislation that would preempt cities and counties from enforcing certain rules and regulations.
Cities and counties across the country are grappling with how to regulate Uber and other “ride sharing” and “transportation network companies”. Regulators are trying to address liability, fare regulation, consumer complaints, service to the socially and economically disadvantaged and ADA “equal access” for the disabled, among other important consumer protection issues.
Uber claims it is not a “transportation company”, despite recruiting and paying drivers, marketing to customers, taking ride requests, dispatching drivers, calculating fares and ultimately charging passengers’ credit cards. Instead they claim they are an intermediary that should not be subject to traditional and longstanding regulations imposed at the local level in cities and counties across Florida and the nation. The definition of taxicab service is typically defined as demand response transportation service for which the passenger is charged on a per mile basis. Uber provides taxicab service, but they do not think they should be subject to local taxicab regulation designed to ensure service to all residents at a price they can trust.
The poll was conducted by Frederick Polls and surveyed 3,024 Floridians in Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Central Florida and South Florida from January 7th to February 13th with an average margin of error of 1.8%.
For more information or comment on the poll, contact Roger Chapin, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for Mears Transportation Group in Orlando, FL at RChapin@MearsTransportation.com
James D. Wright is an author, educator, and the Provost’s Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Central Florida. Wright also serves as the Director of the UCF Institute for Social and Behavioral Sciences. His bio can be found here: http://sociology.cos.ucf.edu/people/wright-james/
Mears Transportation Group is Central Florida’s largest taxi and luxury car operator giving the company unique insight into the regulatory nature for both industries. Mears has been providing transportation services since 1939.
The Florida Taxicab Association is a membership association that is diverse in size and business location. As a whole the member companies comprise nearly 3,000 taxicabs throughout the State of Florida and have a significant impact on the overall economy in the State as well as the localities in which they operate. They also are active members in each community, creating employment opportunities and supporting important community and not-for-profit initiatives. The primary mission of the association is to share best industry practices and advocate as a unified voice as it pertains to new laws and regulations in Florida.