Kelly Smith had driven down from Bradenton, Fla., to hang with friends in Ft. Lauderdale for the weekend.
On Friday evening, she opened the Uber app on her phone to set up a ride for her and her friends to get to the city's nightlife hotbed on Nugent Ave.
She was surprised to see the following message:
Her friends quickly explained to her what had happened: As a result of new requirements recently approved by Broward County, Uber was shutting down operations in the county.
"It sucked," she said.
Smith's friend, Christina Natali, had traveled down from Florida's Gulf Coast with her.
"We had to stand on the corner, flag someone down, then try to call the taxis around here," she said.
In a 5-4 vote in April, County Commissioners passed legislation that legalized ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, but only on the condition that drivers be fingerprinted and carry commercial vehicle insurance.
“As elected officials, we have to ensure that our residents are protected, ” County Commissioner Mark Kiar told CBS Miami after the vote. “I want to make sure that someone who gets behind the car of an Uber vehicle is not going to assault a resident or a college kid or somebody that gets in the back.”
But as companies predicated on maximum efficiency, Uber and Lyft, could not abide by those rules.
“We’re disappointed with some of the decisions that were made today," Uber rep Kasra Moshkani said after the vote.
Soon thereafter they announced would be shutting down operations in the county effective August 1. According to WPTV, Uber actually shut down at 7 a.m. Friday.
That screwed up the plans of Davie, Fla. resident Jeremy Cacayoran, who had begun setting up a night out with friends a month ago in Ft. Lauderdale with the expectation that they'd be able to catch an Uber before they woke up Saturday morning.
"We had this all planned out that Uber was going to take us tonight," he said. "The reason we go out is because of Uber."
Lyft also shut down earlier Friday than some may have expected. As of 1 p.m., it began showing a vehicle-less map of the area…
And the following message—far less direct about what was happening than Uber's—when a user tried to confirm a pickup at a location there.
As the clock struck midnight downtown on Nugent Saturday, taxis were out in force and had no trouble picking up desperate revelers.
But there was a clear sense of frustration among the nightcrawlers that they'd become their only option.
Krystal Brindley was in town from Lakeland, Fla., for a friend's bachelorette party, which had been scheduled months in advance.
But when they tried this week to book an Uber to take them around town, they realized they'd have to wing it for the weekend.
“I have no idea who this guy is, but we’re going in his car,” she told Fusion as they piled into a taxi.
The police presence was also substantial, and probably for good reason—two different people told Fusion that they were planning to drunk-drive that night and that they were likely to do so again in the future as long as the situation persists.
"We took no precautions," one woman who wished only to be identified as Remi said. "That was a bad, bad choice because there are a lot of cops out tonight."
As for the drivers themselves, one frequent Broward driver told Fusion that he would simply move his base of operations south to Miami-Dade County. Others are likely to do the same, he said, which would raise the number of available drivers for users but see a decrease in income for drivers, who are already facing a recent price cut by ride-sharing services in South Florida.
Uber has previously ceased operations in places like San Antonio, Portland, and the entire state of Kansas, only to have local legislators cave to meet their demands.
"It is our hope that this does not mark the end of our time serving the Broward community," Uber's Moshkani said in a July letter announcing the company's plans to vacate Broward, "and that the Commission will reconsider its approach to [Transportation Network Company] legislation."
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.