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No Resolution In Dallas On-Demand, Taxi Transportation Fight

Bud Gillett, CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM
(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas City Hall tried once again to broker middle ground between traditional taxi service and app-on-demand private transport companies like Uber and LYFT.  But a hoped-for resolution will have to wait for another day.

Uber’s Ubermaster, LeAndre Johns, joined representatives from taxi and limousine services in saluting the effort to find common ground but balked at sharing many of the same rules, saying his on-demand service is unique.  “I think this allows for folks to have the option to select the types of transportation that they feel is necessary for them at that point in time,” he told the Transportation-for-Hire work group Chair Sandy Greyson.

Uber and a second on-demand service, LYFT, argued their part-time drivers should not pay taxi-like operation fees.  “Many of the drivers with companies like LYFT may do a few rides – literally a few rides – and never do a ride again,” LYFT’s Jim Black told the group adding, “A fee that’s actually based on the number of rides would actually make a lot of sense.”

There were many other disagreements over issues like whether drivers should have 24/7 insurance or trip insurance for just part-time drives; whether taxis should charge by the mile as they do now, or by the minute, and post the rate on car doors; and when it is appropriate to retire a car—on its age or its miles?

The city wants independent drug tests of drivers, but LYFT prefers as “zero tolerance” on those found to be actual drug users.  Current city transportation ordinances require mandatory pickup to all parts of Dallas, but Black said it wasn’t in his drivers’ bests interests to force them to pick up fares.

A manager for Cowboy and Ranger Cabs told CBS 11 News the group should put tougher enforcement on Uber and LYFT.   “This is a disservice to the citizens of Dallas,” said Saied Rafie. “The taxi is a public utility service. All rates should be monitored by the city and controlled by the city.”

He also mocked the idea of suddenly charging riders by the minute instead of the mile.  Rafie said the fare for a typical run from downtown Dallas to Richardson could balloon because of a traffic accident.   “A trip that would have cost me $30 is no going to cost me 45, 60, 100 dollars depending on how many minutes I sit in the taxi.”

Taxi drivers who looked on from the public gallery feel they’re playing on an uneven field.  “It needs to be regulated.  It needs to be regulated by the city,” said driver Sharon Woods.  “The best thing they could have done was just put meters in all the vehicles, and put us all on the same level as to what we charge.”

Fellow cabbie Curtis agreed.  “Just put meters in all the vehicles.  Put signs that say ‘for hire-not for hire.’”

But Greyson doesn’t think the meter notion will fly.  “I don’t think we want to go there but we are definitely going to have more discussion on that.”

Greyson says there’ll be just one other meeting before submitting a proposal to the council.  It was supposed to go to the Transportation Committee on May 12th, but now will be pushed back to later in the summer.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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