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Dallas City Hall Divided On Uber Solution

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Brian New
Brian joined the CBS 11 News team in 2013 after working a...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Months after trying to quietly pass new “anti-Uber” regulations, the City of Dallas Tuesday held its first public hearing on changes to the city’s transportation codes now that smartphone car-for-hire companies have entered the market.

Taxicab companies, led by Yellow Cab, have asked city leaders to place regulations on their new competition to even the playing field.

Yellow Cab president Jack Bewley told the city’s transportation committee Tuesday evening, “While it is important that we embrace new technology, it’s equally as important that the same set of rules apply to everyone – fairly and equally.”

The committee asked representative from Uber and Lyft to answer several questions about their companies, including concerns about liability, safety, and whether their service would be available in all areas of the city.

Dozens of Uber and Lyft users also addressed the committee – praising the new car services.

Daniel Cocanougher, a regular Lyft user, said “It’s always been a phenomenal experience for me.  The cars are always clean.  The drivers are always nice.  But an even bigger thing is I think this is filling a great need in Dallas.”

Taxicab drivers also showed-up to the public hearing in large numbers.

Robin Thompson, a driver for Cowboy Cab, was one of several who took aim at Uber with their comments.

“They have no regulations as far as the rates they charge and they have no way to enforce their company policies when their drivers overcharge their customers or take the longest route,” he told the committee.

No decisions were made Tuesday, but when it was time for council members to speak it’s clear they were as divided as the audience.

Councilmember Tennell Atkins expressed the need for the city to regulate the industry,

“We need to go out and inspect those cars to make sure those drivers don’t have a criminal background or whatever,” Atkins said.  “There’s a price we have to pay so there should be a fee charge.”

Councilman Philip Kingston, who is not on the transportation committee, was in attendance Tuesday.

“I just don’t need to see the need for the medaling of government in the private affairs of citizens in this context,”Kingston said.  “Things seem to be working fairly well.”

Tuesday was the second of three committee meetings scheduled.  Any recommendations from the committee in changes to the city’s transportation codes would be voted on by the full city council.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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