In both Tampa, FL and Austin, TX taxi services using low-speed vehicles are bumping into legal and regulatory obstacles as they encroach upon the turf of traditional taxis. The LSV taxi services are typically offered for free in a limited downtown area but drivers may accept tips and the vehicles sell advertising space on the vehicles. Local businesses or business associations such as hotels and tourist destinations in the service area may offer support as well.
In Tampa the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission ruled that since tips and advertising revenue were involved the taxi service must be regulated and permitted by the county agency. This ruling coincides with a similar ruling by a circuit judge regarding the taxi service.
In Austin Capital Cruisers, already in business, and e-Cars, planning to start a taxi service, are waiting for the city council to include LSVs in the local regulations to legalize their use as taxis. The local transportation commission had recommended such action in the beginning of the year. In the meantime, Capital Cruisers is spending money fighting frequent traffic tickets and other legal battles with the city.
In both cities the local taxi associations are trying to either stop the services from being offered, or at a minimum, have them comply with the similar regulations. Learn more: TBO.com
Learn more: ABJentrepreneur.com
Update: A similar issue is occurring in Houston, TX as well with Rev Eco-Shuttle owner Erik Ibarra waiting for the city to pass ordinances and provide permits for his low speed-vehicle taxis. Learn more: Swamplot.com