Dallas Councilman Lee Kleinman: Uber Should Be Regulated Like Taxis
Now that Dallas has been exposed for almost putting Uber out of business to make Yellow Cab happy, Dallas still plans to do something about Uber. What will be done is not clear.
C. Troy Mathis
The City Council's Transportation Committee is scheduled to review Dallas' car-for-hire regulations next month. In the meantime, the vice chair of that committee, Lee Kleinman, has offered a preview of what's to come at those meetings.
In a town hall on Wednesday night hosted by some of the more pro-Uber council members, Kleinman offered a defense of the taxi cab industry, saying that it is subject to strict regulations. However, the regulations probably aren't being enforced. Got it?
The citizens who showed up to the meetings were mostly on team Uber. Cab drivers don't know where anything in the city is, they never show up when they say they will, they overcharge riders, their meters don't work, they don't take credit cards, they assault riders for no reason and cabs also smell bad, according to a legion of horror stories that residents shared.
Despite all that, along with the city's and Yellow Cab'swell-documented crackdown on Uber that included vice cops and a secret ordinance, Kleinman then stood before the crowd with a sympathetic take on the Yellow Cab vs. Uber beef.
"With regards to the city trying to stop a new company or startup, I don't think that's really the case, as much as it is the legislation just lags the technology," he said. "So this came to Dallas...and we're not able to put the correct legislation in place quickly enough. With regards to Uber...we just want--we want to make sure we have regulations in place that provide safety."
People challenged him on those points, but he went on.
"We have a major inconsistency in our policy right now between what limos can do and what taxis can do. Taxis are much more highly regulated, and for their regulation, that's why they are protected," he told the crowd. "That's just simply what happened, that's the tradeoff. So maybe the protection doesn't need to be there. We can lift the regulation on the taxis and maybe create a more consistent environment that's less regulated across the board for everyone."
His speech seemed to contradict all of the horror stories people just shared about how cabs are getting away with doing whatever the hell they feel like doing, including stories from former cab drivers who now work for Uber. "Can you be more specific when you say taxis more regulated than the limos?," one of those drivers asked Kleinman.
"Sure," Kleinman responded. "Taxis are required by ordinance to pick up any fare that calls in the city."
"I'm not saying they do it," Kleinman clarified. "I'm not saying the regulation is working."
Someone else brought up that whole controversy recently exposed by WFAA about Yellow Cabs driving around for years without the proper insurance, just another example of perhaps cabs not being so heavily-regulated after all.
"There's no question, it needs to be enforced, " Kleinman clarified.
After the meeting, Kleinman pointed out to Unfair Park that taxi cabs are also required to have working meters and to serve low-income areas, rules that "I'm not necessarily saying that they follow."
But the regulations exist at least, so that's a start.