The Internet frowns on Orlando. Well, the Internet Association,
does at least. It's a Washington, D.C.-based organization that says it is the "unified voice of the Internet economy." Yesterday it sent a letter
to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to let him know that the city's proposal to regulate ridesharing services in Orlando (Lyft, Uber, Sidecar) are bad for the economy.
The minimum fares and "onerous permitting fees" the city wants to impose on ridesharing services, the letter says, "serve no practical purpose other than to limit transportation competition in Orlando. In supporting this legislation, Orlando is setting a dangerous precedent that entrenched interests, such as existing taxi operations, can use public policy to prevent competition in the city."
The letter, signed by Internet Association president and CEO Michael Beckerman, says that while it appears that the city is leveling the playing field between ridesharing and taxis, the two don't belong on the same plane.
"This ordinance looks to treat ridesharing platforms the same as taxis," he writes, "but ridesharing is different. Ridesharing partner drivers often work part time, which is in stark contrast to the extended utilization of a taxi. It stands against reason that ridesharing companies should be required to pay Orlando licensing fees that amount to double the cost to operate in the State of Colorado.
Orlando should be a place that embraces innovation, competition, and consumer choice in transportation. The Internet Association urges you and the City Council to amend this misguided ordinance and, in doing so, reaffirm that Orlando is a place that embraces economic growth, consumer choice, and innovation."
The city's new ridesharing ordinance is scheduled to go into effect on Feb. 1.
For more perspective on Uber, and why it's business model has become so controversial in so many cities, PBS's Newshour did a piece questioning whether the ridesharing service was exploiting deregulation and taking unfair advantage of weaknesses in the taxicab system. You can read more about that here,
and/or watch the video below.
Or you can just watch this video below, which takes 11 minutes to touch upon some of the biggest Uber-related controversies.