Uber Car Service Launches App in Orlando despite Lacking Vehicle-for-Hire Permits

A new car service has launched in the Orlando area, but local officials haven't exactly rolled out the welcome mat.

Uber, a San Francisco-based company, launched its app-based car service on June 4 in Orlando despite lacking the proper vehicle-for-hire permits. The app connects potential passengers to ordinary local citizens who are willing to use their personal vehicles to give rides.

The problem with the app is that Orlando has vehicle-for-hire regulations that require drivers to undergo police background checks and obtain a permit to transport passengers. Uber has said it had "tens of thousands" of downloads in the Orlando area.

The company is currently in talks with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer about the regulations, and the city has not yet enforced its taxi regulations. When Uber launched in Miami in June undercover police officers impounded drivers' cars.

In addition to the safety issue, there is also a money issue involved.

The city of Orlando collected $921,825 in fees from the limo and taxi industry in 2013. The Orlando International Airport collected $10.1 million in vehicle-for-hire fees in 2013.

Meanwhile, Uber drivers may be picking up fares at the airport but they avoid the commercial lanes and pick up travelers in the "arrivals" area where locals also pick up friends and family members.

The Uber service in Orlando is the UberX service that uses regular citizens in personal vehicles. In other cities Uber offers the UberBlack service that uses professional drivers. Orlando's mayor said the city is looking for ways to accommodate Uber without compromising the public's safety.

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Brandon wrote on Tue, 07/08/2014 - 12:38:

Brandon's picture

We used Uber several times last week and it was awesome. All drivers are extremely professional and courteous - and the fare was often cheaper than the Mears taxi (not to mention Uber drivers had extremely clean and well maintained vehicles). Highly recommended over Mears. My guess is there is going to be a political battle between Mears and Uber and Orlando.

Kristen K. wrote on Wed, 07/09/2014 - 12:33:

Kristen K.'s picture

Oh that's great to hear Brandon! I haven't used Uber yet but I take cabs in Disney all the time and if the cost is lower it may very well be my new ride.

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