On Tuesday, the Senate took an important step towards a clear statewide framework for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) with the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval of Senate Bill 340.
The bill, sponsored by State Senator Jeff Brandes (R) – St. Petersburg, unifies requirements for TNCs, also known as “ridesharing companies,” like Uber and Lyft, and their drivers at the state level, ensuring that the drivers and customers will have a safe, consistent experience anywhere in Florida.
“It’s crucial Florida leads the way in welcoming this innovative technology in our cities,” according to a post on Brandes’ website.
Thorough background checks will be carried out for all current and potential TNC drivers. Any drivers who, in the past five years, have been convicted of a felony, DUI, reckless driving, or sexual assault would not be able to work for any TNCs. Additionally, drivers who have had three moving violations in the last three years are also barred. TNCs will maintain a zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drug abuse.
Unlike traditional taxi companies, TNC drivers may not pick up any passengers who attempt to hail them from the street. TNC drivers may only accept fares from passengers who have been vetted through the TNC’s digital network, in the form of an app, website, or similar system. Drivers must comply with non-discriminatory laws when taking fares including the accommodation of service animals.
TNCs and their drivers will not be required to register their vehicles as commercial motor vehicles or for-hire vehicles as long as they provide substantial automobile insurance for drivers and passengers which may be purchased by the driver, the TNC, or a combination of the two.
Chelsea Harrison, Senior Policy Communications Manager for Lyft, welcomes the legislation. “Floridians want access to ride-sharing, and we look forward to providing the state’s residents and visitors with a safe, reliable transportation option for many years to come.”
The bill will go into effect July 1, 2017 pending passage.