Preparing for Uber in Bay County

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Ride-sharing services are a controversial topic Bay County officials have been hashing out for months, but that doesn't mean local taxi and shuttle services aren't preparing for the changes that may be coming.

As local municipalities make moves to define regulations in the industry, some local taxi and shuttle services say they welcome the competition.

"There is just a lot of people scrambling over this Uber and Lyft thing that shouldn't even be scrambling. It's actually gonna help in some ways and hurt you in others, so you have to adapt," explains H2O CEO Gary Albright.

The overall consensus seems to be negative when it comes to the battle between traditional transportation services and ride-sharing companies, but those already established say they have nothing to worry about.

"We welcome the competition, we welcome them to come here, but they just need to follow the same rules we do. Not mainly for our sake but for the sake of the citizens," says Beach Boys Shuttle, Taxi and Limo Owner Justin Wilson.

Although Wilson says he does anticipate companies like Uber to affect his business, he believes overall it will be better for customers.

"I think the taxi industry has been needing an update and it's good for the competition to help boost the taxi industry a little bit," Wilson explains.

"The more cars we have, like I said we get 8.9 million visitors," says Albright. "It doesn't matter if me and the other largest company here had 500 taxis, we couldn't supply the demand for the amount of people that come here."

One local official says they are at a standstill until state legislators make a decision regarding regulations, but the county will be presenting a new proposal at the county commission meeting on February 7th to update local laws.