Popular new Dallas taxi competitors, Uber and Lyft, get a clear path to stay in business under proposed new regulations unveiled Friday at City Hall.
The new plan is a reversal from a move nearly taken by the Dallas City Council last year to outlaw the unregulated competition without any public discussion.
Supporters of the upstart ride-sharing companies were outraged and a special committee of company and city officials has been reviewing options ever since.
“We feel the outline reflects a fair market approach to transportation regulation that is uniform, simple and fair. It creates as even a playing field as possible for all the business models of today and those of the future,” said City Council Member Sandy Greyson.
The new plan lumps all “transportation for hire” services together including taxis, limousines, airport shuttles and shared ride services.
Greyson said all of them would face the same rules for safety, quality and consumer protection, but prices would no longer be regulated by the city leaving companies to set their own rates.
Uber and Lyft would face rules for vehicle safety, driver qualification and insurance they did not have before.
Lyft executive Jim Black said shared ride drivers do not deserve the same level of regulation.
“The city would like to get fees, but many of the drivers with a company like Lyft, they do a few rides and never do a ride again,” Black said.
Uber representative Leandre Johns was generally pleased that the ride-sharing companies would be included.
“It is about giving people options and I think this allows for folks to have the option to select the type of transportation,” he said.
All the companies would be required to clearly post rates, but taxi rates would no longer be decided by the city.
Richard Weiner with the DFW Limousine Association took issue with posting rates in front of limo riders.
“A lot of them are arranged by other people and they don’t want to have rates discussed with the passengers,” he said.
Yellow Cab representative Jack Bewley was concerned that other providers would not provide the city-wide service required for taxi operating authority in the past.
City staff will review adjustments in the proposed rules with Friday’s input and another meeting of the special committee of business people will be held next week.
Greyson said she hopes the new transportation for hire regulations can move forward to the Dallas City Council for final approval before the council’s July recess.