Tow truck operators in Fort Worth are threatening to stop answering calls from police if the city moves forward with a plan to hire a California company to speed up response times.
The way it works now, Fort Worth police call tow trucks to accident scenes and other incidents on a rotation basis.
About 20 companies are on the list, and the next one up responds.
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But now, city managers want to hire a California company called "Auto Return" to speed things up, using an Uber-like GPS app to dispatch the closest truck.
"(It would) use new technology, to kind of bring our towing services up to 21st century,” said assistant city manager Jay Chapa. “The old ordinance required everything to be done by phone and fax and there were a lot of efficiency's lost."
Auto Return bid on the new city contract and won, Chapa said.
But the local tow truck companies are worried the California company will set their rates, effectively run their businesses remotely, and make big profits at the city's expense.
They also say they have their own app that can do the same thing.
"We're all sticking together and we will not tow for a California company,” said Chris Akers, a manager at Texas Towing, one of the city’s largest towing companies.
It’s unclear if the city can find other tow companies to do the work.
"It'll probably be gridlock for awhile,” Akers said.
Chapa said the city wants to extend the current contract past next month and expects some towing companies to ultimately agree.
"We're working with them to get an extension through December 1, so we can put a new system in place,” he said.
But for now, the companies say that won't happen.
"There won't be a system to remove the gridlock,” Akers said. “It will be whoever the people in California decide to call. I don't know if they'll come from California or Austin. I don't know where they'll send tow trucks from."
The City Council is set to vote on the new contract next month.
At least one council member, Gyna Bivens, said she sides with the local towing companies because city mangers haven’t shown her why a change is necessary.