Cabbies Say There's a Taxi Monopoly in Dallas, and They're Fighting to Break it Up

Categories: Transportation

CabsProtest_megaphone.jpg
Patrick Michels
Cab drivers protest the city's decision to give preference to natural gas-fueled vehicles in 2010.
Jack Bewley and Jeff Finkel have spent the last several years methodically strengthening their position in the Dallas taxi market. Their company, Irving Holdings, was established with the merger of five local cab companies. In 2007, they brought Freedom, Eagle and Jet taxi companies. Earlier this year, they brought State, U.S. Cab and Diamond into the fold.

All told, they control 75 percent of the taxi market in Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties, which presents a problem for smaller operators. Several of them -- Star, Alamo, United and Ambassador, as well as the Association of Taxicab Operators, a local trade group -- filed a lawsuit yesterday alleging that Bewley and Finkel are elbowing would-be competitors out of the market through price fixing and other measures that violate federal antitrust law.

To understand the nature of their claims, you have to understand how the taxi business works in Dallas. Pretty much each major city in the region has its own system for permitting cab companies, the most important of which are those for Dallas (which includes access to Love Field) and DFW Airport. Without access to air passengers in those markets, a cab company is hard-pressed to make a profit. (The North Central Texas Council of Governments is mulling a universal, region-wide permit, but those discussions are still in the early phase.) The drivers themselves are independent contractors who pay licensed companies so-called stand fees for the right to drive their cabs.

Those drivers have increasingly fewer options. Both the city of Dallas and DFW Airport have instituted moratoriums on new permits for cab companies, and Bewley and Finkel's companies control most of those that have already been issued. The result, according to the lawsuit, is that the men have a monopoly on the market that they've used to undercut smaller companies and make it impossible for them to recruit drivers. Since the cab companies engage in interstate commerce, by ferrying airport passengers from other states and taking gamblers to casinos in Oklahoma and Shreveport, this represents a violation of federal antitrust legislation.

This isn't the first time Alamo et al have sued Irving Holdings. They filed an almost identical suit in 2010, which was stayed by a judge last night. The only thing that's changed since then is that Bewley and Finkel have gained control over an even larger slice of the market. Neither side's attorney has responded to a request for comment.


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28 comments
fedup
fedup

I like the ones that pick you up (happened 3 times to a friend) at Love Field and they tell the cabbie that they are going to the Fairmont. Instead of say going down Mockingbird to the tollway and off tollway  8 or so blocks to Fairmont. These ragg heads will go Mockingbird to Stemmons to town/or/ mockingbird to N. Central to town. Curious is there any American/Texas/born cab drivers anymore who "KNOW the city and will not STEAL you blind? Doubtful

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

What's a cab?

If cabs are going to succeed here, you need to be able to flag one, which apparently is illegal or against Sharia law or something.

In my other hometown, Chicago, they cruise around the city streets at all hours. Why not here? Dallas is plenty full of areas that have lots of people, including tourists and boozers. There should be cabs stands all over Uptown and Oak Lawn, in Addison and all those fake downtowns in the the burbs, and at the DART rail stations. Northpark and Galleria too.

There's absolutely no reason to wait more than 15 minutes.

If the license holders can't provide the service, revoke the license and give it to someone who will. There's plenty of people that would make the effort, some of whom might even speak English and be able to read a map.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

I see how this affects the drivers, but they do not really matter. Nobody cares if employees have only limited opportunities. How does this situation affect the rider? Aren't the fares regulated? Is there any reason to believe drivers filing the suit are any better than the drivers being sued? The consensus is they are all pretty lousy. I have learned to always prepare with Google Maps. If you are not going to the airport, major hotel, or very famous restaurant, forget it. Just giving someone a street address is an invitation to disappointment. They do not know the city at all.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Yeah, there's a monopoly...

 

Every single cabbie in DFW is an absolutely horrendous driver. That's your monopoly.

WylieH
WylieH

One important element in this creeping monopolization appears to have been the partnership of Tom Leppert and John Wylie Price's surrogate, Kathy Nealy in creatively using CNG as a way to muscle most of the independent black operators out of business.

 

As you may recall, Leppert and Nealy collectively ram-rodded through the most onerous CNG taxi regulations in the country, giving CNG taxis the right to go to the head of the line at the airport.  While a few other cities around the country (e.g. San Francisco) have implemented similar regulations, they all allowed for a phase-in period to allow smaller owner-operators the time to assemble funds to replace their vehicles.

 

Not Dallas.  As a result, only the large taxi companies could comply.  Without the important airport business, the independent black owned businesses couldn't compete.  It could well have been the single most destructive ordinance (in terms of minority-owned businesses) implemented by the City of Dallas in decades.  Oh well, it seems that Pickens took care of Leppert and Nealy made some handsome retainers off of the taxi companies--- gotta' love that good 'ol Dallas political system!

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Fuck these cabbies in DFW,  Ive tried to use cab service around here after some nights out drinking and on multiple occasions they either never showed or would leave me sitting for hours b4 they did show up.  One particular night I called a cab at 1030, the told me itd be an hour, so a 1.5 hrs later I call again, they said oh give us another hour.  I wait another 1.5 hrs and call again.  The guy finally said if you are sober enough to call me 3 times tonight you can just drive home and hung up on me.  Then I had a reservation for a cab at 1230 on New Years eve,  they no showed and when i called they said just drive, there are enough drunk drivers out there that they wont catch you. WTF is that attitude

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

 @fedup 

 

And it will happen a fourth and fifth time to your friend, unless he suggests a route when giving his destination. Cabbies worldwide will give you an overpriced tour if they know you're unfamiliar with the area.

 

gmit
gmit

 @Montemalone Sounds like to me the cabs are not only being successful but making so much money they can buyout the competition.

deep-sigh
deep-sigh

 @wynnedutch I love Uber too! and yes they are more expensive than a taxi but I feel safer, i know who's picking me, the car is so much cleaner, they have no prob returning anything I may leave in their car, the price includes the tip.  But they are getting hassled in union heavy taxi cities too.....

WylieH
WylieH

 @wynnedutch I love UBER, but it's much more expensive than a taxi:  $15 minimum, and roughly $40 from Uptown to NorthPark, for example.

 

The Dalas taxi monopolists are trying to figure out how to get that shut down, as well.  Unfortunately, UBER is well-funded by deep-pocketed venture capitalists-- unlike the black taxicab owners, who were sold out by their own leaders.

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

@ScottsMerkin - Sounds like you're on a blacklist, do you tip well?

CraigT42
CraigT42

 @ScottsMerkin  After spending >10 years working in DFW area hotels, nightclubs and bars the one overriding factor I saw in  DFW cab companies is that they are staffed with hapless asshats who hate their jobs and despise all of their customers.

I have seen a cab driver drive off with a Priests luggage because the priest, who was being flown in to officiate at a funeral went inside to get cash from the ATM and took to long to come out, he didn't have enough cash on him because the cabbie somehow turned a ride from DFW to  75 and 635 into an $85.00 fare standard fare at the time was $40.00. 

I routinely call 3 cab companies when a guest needs a cab because one will no show, one will be an hour late and the third will be there 15 minutes late.

It was so bad that if a guest told me his ride was important I would hire a towncar for him and pay the $15-20 difference out of the till rather than have an unhappy guest waiting in the lobby 2 hours later

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

@deep-sigh @wynnedutch And not only does Uber show up, they show up on time. Dallas may have the worst cab service of any major city in the US.

charles.alston
charles.alston

 @albert.finney000  @ScottsMerkin

 the cabs have to have a permit to operate in arlington.durin games at cowboy stadium,there is a waiver on the permits.dont blame the drivers.remember the fiasco at an earlier college game a few months back

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @albert.finney000  @ScottsMerkin haha expecting an extra payment before the service is performed ha!  And my last cab ride was $14 I gave him a $20 and he didnt even get out to get my luggage out of the trunk.

TaxiBear
TaxiBear

@CraigT42 Does your employer know you are stealing from them??  You say you cover the extra fare out of the till but being in the business I know you get a kickback from the town cars.  So thats just like taking the cash out of the till and sticking it in your pocket.  But I essentially call BS on your diatribe anyways.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @CraigT42 good man you are.  Ive noticed that cabbies generally despise coming to Arlington for anything except Cowboys games.  I rhave a couple that live here now that I have their numbers, but if they are busy when I call I have to go elsewhere.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @gmit Really?  What gives you that idea?  The fact that im actually trying to avoid driving drunk makes me a dick.  God I love people

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @albert.finney000 dont know about that but i do know they dont follow any traffic laws in downtown.  they make left turns across 3 lanes, run red lights, dont yeild to pedestrians in crosswalks...wait, that sounds about like half the drivers in downtown

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @albert.finney000 yeah, i have many service industry friends.  i understand how tipping works.  When I have taken cabs Ive had no problem paying inside the car and then the cabbie gets out and grabs my luggage.  Oh well lesson learned on that one

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

 @ScottsMerkin 

 

That being said, I've never ridden in a Dallas cab. Do they pull over at certain times of day to bang their heads on the pavement, as they do in NYC?

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

 @ScottsMerkin 

 

As in the service industry, gratuity is part of the implied contract.

 

But gratuity can and should reflect the level of service, which is the reason most tip at completion of service - in your case that means removing luggage from the trunk at the destination. If you hadn't jumped the gun, you might have avoided overpaying.

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

 @fedup  @ScottsMerkin 

 

Ah, I understand your logic, apparently Scott has never actually ridden in a cab in Dallas. I wouldn't have understood had you not screamed.

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