The Yellow Cab Emails that Spurred Dallas' Uber Crackdown -- "We Are Bleeding!"

Categories: City Hall

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An NBC5 report last night shows just how desperate Yellow Cab Co. was to run Uber, the rider-summoned, smartphone-app car service, out of its territory. In emails dating as early as May, a lawyer for the biggest taxi company in North Texas hectored the city manager's office about citing Uber drivers for operating without taxi permits.

"Come on, get DPD to write tickets to Uber or stop charging permits to the cab company's (sic)! This isn't right. This is your area of responsibility," a July email reads.

In another seeking an update just over a week later, the lawyer pleads with interim City Manager A.C. Gonzalez and Assistant City Manager Joey Zapata: "My clients are losing business, are suffering large financial losses. Please clarify the status of enforcement of the code and progress to date. We are bleeding!"

See also: Dallas Swears It's Not Trying to Crush Uber, Just Regulate it into an Unrecognizable Form

We already knew an attorney for Yellow Cab met with city managers about Uber, which apparently has been eating into its marketshare since its launch last year. In the meantime, as we reported in a recent cover story, Yellow Cab attorney John Barr sent a private investigator to pose repeatedly as an Uber fare.

It could have simply been a bit of intelligence gathering. Yet many of the Uber drivers who reported picking up Barr's PI were cited for giving those very rides. City staff later directed Dallas Police Chief David Brown to launch an investigation using undercover vice officers. In an interview, Brown characterized his investigation as a public safety fact-finding mission, which revealed that every driver his officers cited had the appropriate permits. Uber itself was cited for advertising an illegal limo service, but was found not guilty in municipal court.

The crackdown was followed by a proposed revision to city code that would have outlawed Uber's business model in Dallas outright. The item was quietly placed on the consent agenda. But when Councilman Philip Kingston discovered the revision, a furor erupted among Uber users on social media, and it was removed. Mayor Mike Rawlings pledged to conduct his own investigation.

See also: City Hall's Favorite Tool in Uber Crackdown: Undercover Vice Stings by Dallas Cops

As we reported in the cover story, the North Texas taxi industry, now largely controlled by two men, has a long history of calling its own shots in City Hall. The industry's backlash against Uber is by no means unique to Dallas. In major cities across the country, officials have attempted to regulate the company out of existence. In Washington, D.C., the council was chided by the Federal Trade Commission for passing harsh rules against Uber that seemed to have little to do with public safety.


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23 comments
cocosnookie
cocosnookie

dallas police chief brown and yellow cab and cityhall go hand in hand . find them all in the land of oz . plus dont for get the mayor and department of transportation

city hall part .....they lead a bogus investigation  with gonazales and katheleen and barr yellow attorney   used the police dept manpwer to investigate uber drivers  dummest move ever 

mayor worried about his election  tryed to distant hisself from the rumor he was involved in a private company rangeling of and misuse of city police and time .

yellow cab pays a lot of hush money and  do as we say money,is the reason it is alllowed to be the top transportation in the city . 

dallas police defends yellow cab and rarely ticket the cabs for safety violations such as sleeping infront of hotels , fighting customers , nasty discussting cabs . non english drivers who do not qualify for a permitt but yet is driving . how come they dont ask the dot about that ? if they want to ask questions . 

yellow cab owner brewly is a greedy arabic man very desperate and hss millions to push in the faces of underpayed city officials to shut up anyone they want to . but this method dont work when the public fights back . the public is sick of yellow cabs  untrained drivers . whom lack sleep from working 20 hour shifts but driving people to the airport , after 2 hours of sleep in 24 hours . most sleep in their cars which is suppose to be a violation of city code . the city patrol cops pass by and see drivers sleeping  and keep going no tickest ever writtten . many complaints about this no recourse . yellow cab why dont you clean up your fility  cabs and fix your tampered meters , who are never properly checked by the city . and take your millions and  train drivers to drive and you wouldnt have so many wrecks due to tired  non rested drivers . i rode in a cab that the man was old and should not be driving even the man ran off tthe road several times . as he drove i got out the cab with my child and walked my brother said they dont hire anyone but  foriegner males to keep suspicion and complaints to going to a higher court in texas . as to the filty and  the un safety for public to be riding in the cabs i asked a cab driver how long he drives he said he never goes home he sleeps in his cab.


WatchingSouthDetroit
WatchingSouthDetroit

This says a lot about how Yellow Cab pulls the strings on AC Gonzalez.  Does Gonzalez work for the city of Dallas or for Yellow Cab?

laughtiger
laughtiger

So the argument is that the police are enforcing the law,  and this benefits a taxi company.


But if they did not enforce the law, wouldn't this just be favoring a different taxi company, Uber?


P1Gunter
P1Gunter

I no longer take cabs because I no longer drink, and thus driving my own ass home is a lot easier.

But back when I did, Yellow Cab was the absolute worst. They would take an hour to show up, they would try to take odd routes (I grew up in East Dallas, I know the quickest and shortest routes to Exposition Park or Deep Ellum), and has been mentioned if you ever, ever say you want to pay by card your cab ain't showing up unless it's a very slow night and then the driver will fight you over it. Oh and I almost forgot, twice when we called Yellow and said we needed a van because it was a group of us they showed up in a damn car.

So I moved to Cowboy Cab, they at least showed up and within a reasonable timeframe. Their service still sucked and the drivers would still fight with you on credit cards, but at least when they said they would be there in 15 minutes they actually were.

It's no mystery to anyone that a car service that shows up on time, keeps your card on file, and that you can summon from an app on your phone is taking their market share. What kills me is instead of hiring lawyers and paying off politicians why don't they just spend the money to adapt to what Uber is doing and undercut them in price?

joevano
joevano

This is all absolutely unreal.  Maybe Yellow Cab would not be suffering from the existence of Uber if they provided a service of anywhere near half of the quality.  I used yellow cab the other night for the first time in months.  I quickly remembered why I switched to Uber (and pay a bit more for my transportation).  First, I was left standing waiting 45 minutes for a cab that was going to be here in five minutes.  When I called to inquire I was told I had been picked up already.  Ummmm, nope, still standing in a parking lot.  Dirty Taxis, Drivers that refuse to take credit, language barriers, dirty taxis, Extra dollars on the meter that shouldn't be there, and even taking the long way to run the meter.  Those are all problems I have had with YC I have not with Uber.  Matter of fact, the one time we had ANY question as to of our Uber experience, the ride was refunded.  I can assure you yellow cab won't.


Hey yellow cab, instead of crying about your lost market share in court and burning all kinds of money on lawyers, why don't you put a little bit of that time, money, and effort into your actual business and people will be happy to use you again.  Otherwise, get lost and let the PROFESSIONALS take care of transit.  


I could rant on and on here, but will leave it at that.  Dallas Taxis are the worst in the country, and they deserve to be run out by a superior service.  

James080
James080

Is there any way to determine which of the current council members have received money from the cab companies, their PAC or their attorneys?

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

Somebody call them a "Wahmbulance".  Soon to be followed by the "Wahmbulance Chasers".

Greg820
Greg820

Where did I put the worlds smallest violin?

Tony
Tony

Can you imagine the emails that horse breeders sent to the mayors in the 20s?

"OMG these things are awful you can't just let our industry die you have to protect our buggy riders! Thanx - Ezekiel"

Something like that...

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The buggy whip industry is lobbying the City.  "How are you going to pay for your sports venues if you don't make them buy buggy whips?"

Or more to the point, the Teachers Union is lobbying against home schooling. "We don't CARE if they are putting out a better product even if they ARE paying a school tax!"

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

This is part of the city manager problem. Taking this type kf authority away from council members who can be fried at the polls is a breach of our democratic ideal.

But there must also be council members involved here too. Out em.

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

They can bleed and bleed and bleed until they figure out how to provide a service that is safe and convenient to consumers. Then again, Uber already provides that.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@laughtiger I think you missed the part where they were found not guilty and had all necessary permits....

jayson
jayson

@joevano agreed if yellow cab would take some effort to improve their service they wouldn't be having this problem.  I called yellow cab and told the operator I would be paying by credit and after a 30 min wait the driver denied to take me b/c I didn't have cash.

dingo
dingo

@joevano so they also deserve to be hit with permit fees while uber skirts the same?

laughtiger
laughtiger

@James080 Or from Uber? Remember, these guys have a massive warchest of hundreds of millions of dollars. What do you think they're spending it on?

CPAscott
CPAscott

@laughtiger you are certainly wrong on the speed of the dispatch of yellow cab.  I have lived in uptown for 10 years using yellow cabs on a regular basis, until last year when Uber started providing much better service.  As a capitalist I say the best service should win.  NO LAW should regulate taxi service to one provider, you end up with old fat cats that don't change for the better.

xdarkridex
xdarkridex

@dingo Check the story: "...every driver his officers cited had the appropriate permits."
Permits aren't the issue.

WylieH
WylieH

Uber only matches riders with City of Dallas-licensed limos, so there is no "skirting" of fees.

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