Uber Is Upside Down When You Look at It Through the Eyes of John Barr

Categories: Schutze

SHZ_GetOffMyLawn_TitleImageV2.jpg
Everything looks different if you're John Barr.

The mayor has released his investigation of city officials who worked to help Yellow Cab of Dallas combat an incursion into the Dallas marketplace of Uber, an app-based car-ride system that operates outside taxicab laws. Brantley has reported all of that for you already.

The night before the mayor released his report, I had a long phone chat with Barr, attorney for Yellow Cab. I always enjoy speaking to Barr, because he is a man who says what he means.

john_l_sullivan2.jpg
Library of Congress
Current photos of John Barr are strangely hard to find, so I just used this one of John L. Sullivan, "The Boston Strong Boy," Heavyweight champion of the world,1882 to 1892.

Below is Barr's version of events. I must explain first, however, that Barr often peppers his conversations with me with instructions, "This is off the record," and "That's on the record, you can print that," all of which I ignore in deep silence. So it's all on the record, most of it. We seem to get along anyway.

I believe when I reached him he was driving friends to dinner. I am not including things I overheard him saying when he apparently was competing for a parking spot, because I think those remarks just should be off the record, no matter what. He said:

"I'll give it to you in three words or less.

"I gotta tell you, this is the summary in a real brief statement. The summary is, some guy comes to town that's got a bunch of Internet money behind him. He shows up, and he says, 'Well, I'm not in the transportation business, I'm in the application business.' Yet when he advertises on my Facebook, he says, 'Your next ride, leave the taxi behind.'

"I go and I say, 'Who are these guys and why are they coming into my town and what's the story on them?' So I tell my investigation people that work full-time for me, 'Go tell me about this Uber bunch, tell me what the deal is.'

"So they go get me all the stuff from all these different cities, and I just see what they've done. What they did in those cities is what they did in Dallas. They just roll into town, and they just start operating without going to the hearings, without getting the permits, without doing anything.

"I got a client [Yellow Cab] who's paying 50 thousand bucks a month to the city of Dallas for permits, paying two million dollars a year to go and in out of D/FW airport, and these pricks show up and get a front row seat, and they don't pay anything? That's unfair.

"Years and years ago I went down to City Hall and said, 'We'd like to do an upgrade cab service where we use limos, or what we'd call limos, just black Lincoln Continentals, and we'd like to put a meter in 'em and when we're not using them for the traditional limo deal we'd give it to the people in North Dallas or the rich people to be able to not get a DWI.'

"And [city officials] said, 'No way, not allowing it, no way that's happening, because you're crossing a line.' And these guys show up, and what do they do? They get iPhones, and they use them as meters."

At this point I interrupted to ask a question about the sudden appearance earlier this week of certain southern Dallas clergymen speaking out on Yellow Cab's side of the issue. Barr admitted he had approached them to speak, but when I raised the issue of compensation, he vigorously denied taking part in any payment for services.

"We ain't paying no money. No money at all. You know that's not my deal. Look, off the record, I'm the only lawyer that's had the FBI come in their damn office on that Don Hill guy [former City Council member and member of Barr's law firm, now in prison for bribery] and come in there and go through everything and walk back out the other side and not even be charged with failing to pay a traffic ticket or not pay the IRS. Secondly, Defenbaugh [former FBI Dallas special agent Danny Defenbaugh, now a private investigator] is officing with me, and he's such a Nazi bastard, if there was anything out of sorts you know that son of a bitch wouldn't be around."

At this point I laughed out loud because I couldn't help myself, and I agreed that he had made a strong case on that point.

"The point is, I'm just getting sick of this. These iPhone ... what's the word, John? [apparently asking someone else in car with him] these i-palm, another word for these big high rollers in silicon valley, I, you know what I mean, f-dot something, [voice in background offering suggestion], yeah, these dot-com assholes come in here and do this, so I go down there [to City Hall] and start raising hell, literally raising hell in August, saying 'These guys are coming into town, and they're not bothering to stop at the front door of City Hall, guys. They're not going to try to get a permit.'

"'This is what they did in all these other cities, and if you guys don't stop them, they're going to come in here and if you guys don't grab ahold of them real quick, they're going to sign up two or three hundred drivers, and then you're going to have a contingency that you can't deal with.'

"You know what? This can be printed. I don't care if anybody faults me. I got a client to represent, and they can fucking go to hell. Everybody that can hear that or read that can go to hell. I only care about this [the client].

"So what I do is start jumping on him (Interim City Manager A.C. Gonzalez), and I say, 'It's been six months, goddamn it. What are you going to do? And A.C.'s starting to push the system. And look, have you ever seen that system work? From the inside, let me tell you how it works. It's a cultural deal, just like in France.

"If you go eat in France and you want your check real quick, you want to eat and leave, you're in a hurry, they won't bring you your check."

At this point while Barr spoke, I engaged in a personal fantasy: Oh, to be a fly on the wall when John Barr dines in Paris.

He went on: "In the city of Dallas, they don't come in and say, 'Yeah, we'll take care of it, Boss, let's get it done.' They come in and give you 20 ways of why they can't do it, because if you're the kind of guy that goes in and sits down and can get something done, well, you aren't at the city of Dallas. A.C. Gonzalez to his credit, is. I said, 'What the hell's wrong with you? Let's get something done, damn it.'"

At this point I observed that the anti-Uber new taxi ordinance that Gonzalez tried to slip into the City Council's consent agenda was remarkably similar to other anti-Uber ordinances backed by the taxi industry around the country.

"You're approaching it wrong," Barr told me. "You're approaching it completely wrong. We didn't want a new ordinance. Yellow Cab never asked for a new ordinance. We were told the city attorney was going to have a hard time prosecuting the cases because they couldn't decide what 'prearrangement' was. The statutes that were in existence and have been there -- they were able to use them to tell us we couldn't do this or that -- are suddenly vague and ambiguous for prosecution purposes.

"Here's exactly what I did. I said, 'Look, you guys at the city attorney's office, if you're worried about a new statute and you want a new statute, well, I'll just give you the statutes from every damn place that they've got it.' And I told the kid that was in law school the year before, 'Go get me the statutes.'

"That's all it is. So they brought me a pile of statutes, and I sent 'em to that little guy, Zoey, Joey, whatever, Zapata [Assistant City Manager Joey Zapata], and said, 'Here,' and he gave them to the city attorney.

"Look, A.C. Gonzalez didn't meet at midnight, swap blood and take a sacred oath. And you know what? I kept jumping his ass. I said, 'Look, it's time to fight or get out the way and let me go fight, and I'll sue you and I'll sue the city for failure to enforce, for violating our civil rights, and I'll go sue these Uber fuckers.'"

Barr's main message to me on the phone that evening was that A.C. Gonzalez, far from being the goat in this saga, is the hero according to John Barr: "This son of a bitch is the only guy that's worth a crap at the city of Dallas."

That, and I would say the other lesson I drew from our talk was, if you're about to park at a restaurant and you see John Barr coming toward the same spot, just get out of the way. It's really not worth it.

Correction: The mayor's spokesman, Sam Merten, took me to task in an email yesterday for stating several times that the mayor's investigation of the Uber issue would cost the city $50,000. I looked back and saw what the mayor said was that the investigation would not cost more than $50,000 -- the amount of city money that can be spent without triggering a City Council vote. Merten said to me in his email: "At this point, all we know is it will cost less than $25,000, but we haven't even seen the final bill yet." That was my mistake.

Also wrong: my prediction the mayor would issue only a very vague and cleaned-up version of the investigation. Looks like he let it all hang out, for which I take no credit whatsoever although I can't stop people if they give it to me anyway.

See also:
In the Matter of Uber as a Racist Plot, Maybe We Need a Bit of Context
The Yellow Cab Emails that Spurred Dallas' Uber Crackdown -- "We Are Bleeding!"
Dallas' Unfair Fight to Crush Uber

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85 comments
amhs879
amhs879

City of Dallas is giving hard time for new limo operators by taking their money for limo licensing and not approving them. They have totally gone anti Uber. Oh btw, they still accept bribes at their transportation office on dawson st. It's so pathetic that they would ask for bribe of $20 everytime a car comes for limo inspection

fir3walker
fir3walker

Yosemite Sam is the Mayor of Dallas?  Really????

GeorgeB123
GeorgeB123

First, as a matter of state and federal law, neither Yellow Cab or Uber is the employee of its drivers. Both groups of drivers are independent contractors, as a matter of law.  

Second, the only valid point Yellow Cab makes is that it has to pay $40K a month on licencing fees and Uber does not. In theory,  those fees are supposed to be to reimburse the city for its costs of enforcing the various consumer protection laws. In reality, that is a fee paid to give Yellow Cab a monopoly for meter-based transportation in Dallas. 

My view is that Dallas was trying to screw Uber, but also Yellow Cab should pay much less than $40K a month to the city for reimbursement of enforcement costs. Uber's drivers already pay the city a licencing fee to reimburse for enforcement costs. 

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

Funny how Yellow Cab complains about "these pricks show[ing] up and get[ting] a front row seat" when that's exactly what Yellow Cab did at Love Field with its CNG cabs. Karma is a hell of a bitch, dude!

Mr_Hand
Mr_Hand

Possible Solutions.

1. UBER can include a normal "Taxi" in their ala carte choices (Suburban, Towncar or over fragrance laden taxi)

2. Yellow can develop its own app to deliver its services and compete

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

On Disparate Impact, the race card and other stupid Leftist tricks 

The purpose of the Uber exercise was to demonstrate to Mr. Schutze his disingenuousness when applying the race card to people he politically disagrees with.  The Black clergy used it on his Uber position when it was not the issue.  They know it (At least I hope they do).  He knows it (well, he does now – ha!). 

The only difference is the club not in his hand.  The race club was being used to defeat his position over Uber.  I found this, a “teachable moment”. 

The Left resorts to disparate impact to brand any attempt to reign in their ideology on fiscal grounds as racist.  And the girls have gone wild with it. From local politics to the national scene, from sea to shining sea, it is now in most every debate no matter the subject.  Like terrorism, it is the tactic of last resort because no other is left to those “who care deeply”. 

People, including me, are reactive to such a wild slur.  I am reacting to being called, in a hundred creative ways, a racist in his pieces.   

Since Mr. Schutze and his clan were on the receiving end of the invective, I thought it instructive to run with it a bit, even though I knew it was not the issue.  Hopefully, this demonstration will serve to intervene when he gets weak in the future, and reaches for the race card. 

In that event help, once again, will be on the way.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

I'm gonna ask him to help me save my buggy whip business, and whale oil distributorships.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 I must explain first, however, that Barr often peppers his conversations with me with instructions, "This is off the record," and "That's on the record, you can print that," all of which I ignore in deep silence. So it's all on the record, most of it.

I just want to remind everyone that this is how it should be.  Any reporter that agrees for something to be "off the record" loses a bit of my respect.  Finding out that Krauthammer, for example, agreed to meet with Obama off the record was a major disappointment for me, because I respect Krauthammer.  

raymbala
raymbala

1. What Barr didn't acknowledge is that Yellow Cab has been there almost every step of the way while the City of Dallas forged the EXISTING limo/taxi/shuttle ordinances.  The Cab Industry (especially Yellow Cab), and its lawyers (including Barr) helped to write the existing laws.  He's just as pissed as he is because they've all been outsmarted.  When you think about it. . . They spent all that money, blood, sweat, and tears to have the city pass restrictive ordinances meant to favor them, and now they're getting beat by their own rules.  And that's got to be pissing Barr off more than anything.

2. Barr said "This [A.C. Gonzalez] son of a bitch is the only guy that's worth a crap at the city of Dallas."  LMAO - Really?  I guess anyone willing to do his (and his client's) bidding would fit this description.  And. . .If I were A.C. right now, Barr would be the last person I'd want defending me. . . and certainly not in public.

3. While reading the article, I couldn't help but envision Barr dressed like Baby Huey in a diaper and a bonnet, swerving left in right in the Mortons parking lot throwing a temper tantrum, holding the steering wheel in one hand, and shaking his rattle forcefully at a Uber town car that just cut in front of him to let a customer out to be seated before him and his party.  LMAO!!

AtoZ
AtoZ

Uber is more than just an "end run around fees."  It's a totally new business model that happens to spit out a very familiar looking product.  I agree, the end result looks a lot like a traditional taxi service.  But Wikipedia looks a lot like a standard online encyclopedia, too.  Except, of course, that it's run in a completely different, even revolutionary way.  Think of how difficult it would have been to explain Wikipedia before it was commonplace, and to explain how it would actually not be anything like Encyclopedia Brittanica.  Understanding Uber requires an entirely different mental model, not just an attempt to squeeze it back into the pigeonhole of the old model to see what parts do and do not fit.  And let's not kid ourselves--some folks (dare I say, older folks?) are never going to understand it.  My grandmother will never understand that Roku isn't a television network.  And don't look now, but this is just the beginning of "crowdsourced" business models.  Now that everyone's connected by a computerized communication device in their pocket, all sorts of new ideas are going to spring up to provide "familiar looking" services--and some not so familiar looking, I suppose.

CitzenKim
CitzenKim

If you want to make Uber pay the same licensing fees and follow the same regulations as Yellow Cab, that's fine.

If you want to codify down to Yellow Cab's crappy performance (30 minute minimum advance reservation) and haul out a cabal of southern Dallas preachers claiming Uber is racist because it accepts credit cards (????), that is NOT fine.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

Why not a law that charges Uber what Yellow Cab pays minus the sum of all the driver fees, with no change in Uber's business practices?  Those twits at City Hall, as is usual, focused on the wrong process.  It is not the City's responsibility that Yellow Cab stays in business.  It is the City's business that the City gets paid.  If Mr. Gonzalez et al had focused on how the city loses money, it would have stronger stand.  Then of course, if they had the skill to focus on the right process, they probably would not work for the City of Dallas.

Pweesey
Pweesey

This is one of the most entertaining things I've read on this board.  Thanks for posting.  

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

I'll bet John Barr never has any trouble getting himself a cab.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Barr makes some very good points, which is really no surprise as I'd be very shocked if Yellow Cab would hire an atty who wasn't good at their profession.

That being said, he is trying to reduce the issue to a simple argument that Uber is just like his client but is trying to get different treatment/terms from regulators.

It isn't that simple, surprisingly, for there is a major difference.

The taxi anyone uses is operated by the cab company; Uber doesn't operate any of the vehicles providing the service.

Barr says his client pays fees and buys the needed licenses; so too do the independent operators who are in the Uber system.

In reality Uber is similar to a processing company that takes a fee for the independent operator to use their system. Just like the card cos. take a cut of all the charges the cab company runs thru their service, Uber takes a cut.

The pivotal question (besides how Yellow Cab and Barr used the City staff to carry their water) is why Yellow is so afraid of this competition. If Yellow Cab ran a good, clean and customer friendly service why would anyone choose to go anywhere else?

RDSD
RDSD

I'll pay up to $25,000 to have Bob Odenkirk read this transcript aloud.

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

"North Dallas or the rich people to be able to not get a DWI" - someone is going to be in trouble with the "leaders of south dallas"

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Good story and excellent reporting Jim.  I have to admit that if I needed a lawyer I would want on just like Mr. Barr.


Face it.  What this story is ultimately about is money.  Right now, Yellow has virtually 100% of the dispatch service and probably >90% of the taxis.

Geo.W
Geo.W

If Yellow Taxi had used this (minus the crude language) as their talking points...

"I got a client [Yellow Cab] who's paying 50 thousand bucks a month to the city of Dallas for permits, paying two million dollars a year to go and in out of D/FW airport, [said Barr] and these pricks show up and get a front row seat, and they don't pay anything? That's unfair."

... then they would have received a lot of public support. Instead, they pay the Mayor and city councilors, "influence" City Hall and probably ask Carol Reed to pay the to the ministers.

Is it any wonder that they lost their battle?

raymbala
raymbala

@Mr_Hand Yellow Cab already has one that's been out since April 2013.  Just search "yellow cab" in the app store, and select the one for Dallas Fort Worth.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@holmantx 

I still think it's a good idea to call a racist a racist. Racism at bottom is about identity psychology -- a view of the world in which all behavior is driven by identity. It amuses me that folks like you who howl when they are accused of identity-think always respond with identity-think -- "The left," "his clan," etc.  Only thing you left out this time was a reference to my age. Forgot?

raymbala
raymbala

@MikeWestEast The City isn't losing money, though!  All of the companies and drivers contracted with Uber already pay fees to the City and DFW Airport for their Operating Authority.  Uber just helps arrange the trips via its technology.

Guesty
Guesty

@mavdog Can someone clarify something for me about this?  Are Yellow Cab's drivers also independent contractors and do they also pay taxes/fees for their licenses?  If so, it seems like the differences aren't as significant as you suggest. 

This seems like the fair way to deal with it:

1) all taxes and fees are paid per driver/car, which can be paid by either the driver or the company based on the agreement between them.  I see no reason why taxis should be taxed any differently than limo drivers.  If the situation really is as Yellow Cab seems to describe (they and their drivers pay more in fees/taxes per car than Uber's drivers pay per car), then this should be balanced.  

2) it's fine to have more strict regulations of taxi meters and payment than limos because taxi services are dealing with people who often did not have the opportunity to agree to the metering and price in advance (the reason we regulate them in the first place).  This isn't an issue for services that require prior registration and agreement, like Uber.  

In other words, there need not be any distinction between taxi and limo services other than those that require prior registration and agreement regarding payment (limos) and those that do not (taxis).  

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@whocareswhatithink 

No trouble at all!  It's no secret that black men often have someone else drive them where they need to go.  It's about the only way they can get around town without being harassed by cops.

I've gotten several calls over the years from my drunken white friends, who were pulled over by cops and allowed to call someone, rather than being taken directly to jail.

Black men don't get that break... ever.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@Geo.W 

The only hitch with that is that Uber is not operating a taxi service, so there's no reason to deny them the right to do business in Dallas.  They're just a social network for individuals.

Those individuals don't need a taxi permit because they're not taxi companies - they're just individual entrepreneurs.  In order to be regulated as a taxi service, they would have to hire drivers, provide vehicles for a fee, etc. 

They don't do those things, and don't enjoy the benefits of the economies of scale that those activities would provide; that's how they're not taxi companies.

It's socialized mercantilism, the Achilles heel of capitalism.

jmckee3
jmckee3

I would agree if Yellow Cab hadn't spent the last few years using their monopoly to shit on their customers who now hate them so much we ran and begged to pay more for a clean, safe alternative that wasn't ripping off and rude to us.

dsmithy3211
dsmithy3211

@Geo.W This would certainly be the more prudent approach.  

I was under the impression though that Uber's individual drivers are licensed, albeit as a black car service.  As such, those individual drivers have already paid for their permits and have already paid for their front row seats.  (But somebody please correct me if I'm wrong on either point.)  To require Uber to pay a license would require an Uber car to effectively be licensed twice.

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

@Geo.W I think there's a lot of truth to this.  I don't happen to agree with it, but I think there is a persuasive case to be made that Uber is running a pirate cab company.

Mr_Hand
Mr_Hand

@raymbala @Mr_Hand That would assume that I have a smartphone.  You are racist.  JK..   Then it sounds like Uber has a better product to offer its customers?  If you can't beat e straight up, buy a politician.  Seems that's why they were targeted.  Yellow is cashin in their chips

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Just argue on the merits, Mr. Hulk.

on the merits.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@JimSX @holmantx

In an ideal world, newspapers would answer complaints from readers and critics directly. But like other powerful people in the news, editors recoil at being grilled about how they do their job. In 2011, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller likened his critics to “oxpeckers who ride the backs of pachyderms, feeding on ticks.”  - Does anyone care about newspaper ombudsmen? 

You answer your critics directly, for which I am eternally grateful.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@JimSX @holmantx 

You identified yourself as part of the Old White People crowd.  It was the object (or vehicle) of your piece branding your tribe as racist.  Remember?

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@Guesty 

the cab company controls the permit issued by the City that allows for the cab to pick up fares on the street and from the airports (Dallas cab permits are the only ones allowed to pick up at Love btw). The cab company pays the fees to the City needed to operate.

The drivers are independent contractors, the fares they generate are split with the cab company. I believe they do need to get a taxi driver license from the State.

EricCeleste
EricCeleste

@bvckvs No. I pay Uber. I give Uber my credit card number to get a cab ride. Uber pays these people. That's subcontracting. They are a cab (really a limp; can't hail them) company. If they were just an app, then I could pay the drivers directly. That's an Uber talking point that they KNOW is ridiculous. I had someone who worked for the company tell me they all laugh about it. The idea is, if they keep saying it's true, people will believe and start saying it FOR them.

ruddski
ruddski

It's an end run around permitting fees. End runs around the system were and are the common. Achilles heel of corrupt and dysfunctional States.

WylieH
WylieH

Except for the fact that all the limos are fully permitted and licensed to run in and out of DFW, etc.

ruddski
ruddski

When everyone is a racist, no-one is a racist.

pak152
pak152

@ryan762""Well, Uber just needs to go get taxi permits like Yellow has" because there aren't any to give. The city won't issue any more."

and that means the city is helping to restrict competition. the institute for justice recently one a case agains the city of Milwaukee for constraining how many taxi medallions there should be
http://www.ij.org/milwaukee-taxis

they are also challenging the same thing in Denver
http://www.ij.org/jones-v-temmer

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@mavdog  

Taxis cannot pickup from the street (I assume you mean "hailing" a cab.)  Taxis must pick up from a physical address and deliver to a physical address.

Guesty
Guesty

@ryan762 That makes sense, but it seems like everyone else is dancing around the real issues.  

Have open licensing with straight forward requirements (condition, safety, etc.) and treat all for hire car services the same, with the possible exception of method of payment for services that require prior agreement.  Problem solved.

ryan762
ryan762

@Guesty @mavdog The taxi fee is different than the limo fee. Of course, the city can't just say, "Well, Uber just needs to go get taxi permits like Yellow has" because there aren't any to give. The city won't issue any more. So Barr & others want Uber to play by the same rules while refusing to admit that Yellow gets protection from taxi competition from a city that won't allow new entrants into the market. 

The city of Dallas reportedly hasn't issued a new taxi medallion in ten years and D/FW airport hasn't since 2009.

If Yellow wants Uber to compete on the same playing field, then Yellow needs to push to have the playing field opened again instead of closed to everyone else but Yellow.

Guesty
Guesty

@mavdog Thanks, that helps, but I would like to see the answer to "how much" those fees are.  It sounds possible that Yellow Cab and its drivers are paying the city more in permit fees for their cars than the Uber drivers pay for their own licenses and permits.  If so, that doesn't seem rational, but the answer is simply to even out the fees one way or the other.    

dsmithy3211
dsmithy3211

@EricCeleste @bvckvs Perhaps, though I'm not sure how this is relevant.  In a hypothetical world in which Uber doesn't run background checks, would your answer as to whether Uber is a taxi service change?  (This of course presupposes that AmEx doesn't run any background checks on drivers, which I wouldn't be so sure about.)

Leaving aside the issue how often AmEx and PayPal pay people (and I would tend to think that it is weekly, rather than immediately, but I digress), in a hypothetical world in which Uber pays the drivers immediately after performing a service, would your answer as to whether Uber is a taxi service change?

I would venture to guess that the answer is no on both counts.  Frequency of payment and running background checks are wholly irrelevant to the issue of whether Uber is, in fact, a taxi service.  Whether Uber is a taxi service is defined in the Dallas taxi code.  Background checks and payment mechanisms are notably absent.

EricCeleste
EricCeleste

You're right but I don't have to be a limo driver to apply. You can do so on the website now. Other points well-taken.

EricCeleste
EricCeleste

Why is either curious? I love being right. And this isn't passion. This is arguing. I hope you don't confuse the two at home SICK BURN!

TR-Editor
TR-Editor

You hate the fanboys - we've got it. You're passion for this topic is as curious as the the entertainment district in Irving. I remember when you thought of yourself as a journalist, not a for-hire gun.

Neal_K
Neal_K

@EricCeleste Maybe you're at least partly right.  The problem is that no one cares about the points you are making anymore.  Simply put, it's too late.  Yellow Cab bribed its way into monopoly position and proceeded to abuse and insult its customers.  Companies with viable competitors can't survive if they're run by sputtering thugs like John Barr.  Yellow Cab doesn't have competition other than Uber, and it's telling that Barr's instinct wasn't to improve his product, but to bully and pay off select city staff, council members and D-list community grandees in order to preserve his monopoly.

And isn't it true that the limo drivers contracted by Uber are already required to have various licenses, permits and insurance under existing regulations?  Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what I understand to be the case.  Though if it's true, Yellow Cab has nothing, at least until their bribes reach the necessary critical mass to tip the balance back in their favor.

EricCeleste
EricCeleste

@ryan762 You're 100 percent right, which is why the entire system needs to be rethought. I'm not anti-Uber, I'm anti-Uberfanboys who think because the service is great we should buy their admitted feint that it's a tech company, not a transportation company. I think we should actually turn this over to state regulatory agencies the way California does for limo drivers, and just do the basic minimum guidelines: do your drivers have insurance, do they pass a criminal background check, what sort of minimal fees make sense, okay, go. Then in open competition, of course Uber would destroy Yellow Cab. Or Yellow Cab would adapt. I don't know and don't care. Because even if we tried to impose sensible new restrictions on all parties, Uber would fight it (they're fighting cases in California that the company WON, because they are classified in the decision as a transportation company). They want to be exempt as long as possible. And they're smart to do so, but it doesn't mean that we have to buy the notion that they're not employers of these subcontracted drivers. I mean, I can't just download and app and start driving for them. They vet me. Because of course they do. THEY'RE THE EMPLOYER.

ryan762
ryan762

@EricCeleste If we want Uber to have taxi permits, then we need to not say that no taxi permits are available.

We don't restrict the number of license plates we issue. You go and buy a car, you get license plates when you pay the fee no matter how many other people have cars registered in the state. You want a drivers license? Go to the DPS office and get it. The state will give you one no matter how many other people have drivers licenses. You want to start a restaurant? Go apply for the necessary permits and the city will give you them no matter how many other restaurants there are in the city.

Want to open a taxi service? Buy an existing taxi service. That's the only way because the city won't issue new permits.

EricCeleste
EricCeleste

@bvckvs @EricCeleste and dsmithy3211: American Express nor PayPal nor Bitcoin run a criminal background check on me before they offer me their service. An employer, like Uber, does. And those entities don't hold my money until they give me a payment once a week. 

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@EricCeleste Sort of like Donna Halstead saying that the Dallas Citizen's Council no longer has the same  power or influence in day to day processes at Dallas City Hall as they used to have in the past. Right?

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@EricCeleste 

In that respect, they're providing a payment processing service - like paypal or bitcoin, not a taxi service.  Uber's not paying them, Uber is just processing the transactions between two individuals.

As for your unattributed, second hand story about what the unnamed "they" say, no reasonable person puts any stock in such testimonials.

The only "they" I've heard referring to Uber as a taxi service are the South Dallas evangelicals... and me, before I learned anything about the service..

dsmithy3211
dsmithy3211

@EricCeleste I'm not sure it's that clear cut either way.

Let's assume for a second that I can afford an American Express Centurion Card, which has its own concierge service. I call my concierge and request a black car service.  The driver is paid by American Express.  I pay American Express, not the driver.  I don't believe anybody would call American Express a cab/limo company in such a case.  But for all intents and purposes, it is a credit card company and Uber, all rolled into one.

This is by no means a perfect hypothetical (and there are quite a few holes), but it's just intended to point out that it's not as clear cut as both sides make it seem.

EricCeleste
EricCeleste

LImo, not limp. Goddamn you expiring editing session.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @WylieH 

No, Uber doesn't dispatch drivers.  They're just the communication medium between individuals. 

Similarly, the phone company doesn't dictate which calls you receive or don't.  They're just the communication medium.

dsmithy3211
dsmithy3211

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @WylieH "Dispatch service" is a loaded term.  It is my understanding that what the Uber app does is send out a notice to drivers (something along the lines of "ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul requests a pick-up at Location X and a drop-off at Location Y") and then gives the drivers the option of accepting the fare.  This is fundamentally different than a taxi dispatch service, which sends out (or dispatches, if you will) a taxi cab to your location.

In that sense, Uber is less of a dispatch service than a (very efficient) networking tool between potential customers and service providers.

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