Bay County officials have restricted Uber, a ride sharing company, from offering their services. I try not to be pessimistic, but from the time I heard about Uber, I thought it was too good to be true. I was worried that the “assurances” from Uber higher-ups that they were doing background checks but not providing documentation to cities that asked for the information would attract those who had “questionable” backgrounds. Therefore, when I went on to WJHG Channel 7’s website and saw the headline that Bay County will not allow Uber to operate in their county, I was not surprised. According to the news agency, Bay County will not allow Uber to operate after one of the ride sharing service’s drivers was arrested. According to the Mayor of Panama City Beach, Gayle Oberst, the driver was initially pulled over while dropping off some clients because the vehicle failed to have the proper inspection tags on its vehicle. According to a city ordinance, all taxi-operations must pass an inspection by the police department. The driver was given a warning. The next day, the same driver was pulled over again while dropping clients off. He still didn’t have any proof of inspection. That’s when police arrested the man.
Matthew Gore, General Manager of Uber Florida, explained to Channel 7, “We’re not a taxi, we’re not a limo. These are normal, regular people like you and me using their own private vehicles and what we see in Panama City Beach unfortunately is a city trying to apply these regulations that don’t apply to this situation.”
But Mayor Gayle Oberst maintained, “Everyone is required to have an inspection and insurance and a check of their background and they’re given a certificate or sticker to put on their vehicle.”
So what does Uber have to do to operate within Bay County? “Literally register their vehicle and their driver with the city,” said City Manager Mario Gisbert, “That’s all it would take for them to come here.” The ride-sharing service now has Oberst’s phone number posted on their website, asking Bay County to “Save Uber in PCB.” Oberst and Gisbert says the city will be happy to welcome them back as soon as their cars pass inspection.
What do you think about Bay County trying to get Uber to adhere to the standards that applies to taxi services? Does it insure the safety of the passengers that Uber drivers transport?