Dallas Councilman Lee Kleinman: Uber Should Be Regulated Like Taxis

Categories: City Hall

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C. Troy Mathis
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.

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."

People snickered.

"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.

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22 comments
Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

My take on this is that Kleinman hasn't made up his mind.  I heard him speak publicly before, and in my opinion likes to think out loud.  Therefore, unlike most other council members, he doesn't start with a position which can never be changed. 

We do need to rethink our taxi/limo ordinances to reflect the changing technology.  However, we actually need to enforce those ordinances on all the players.  At least he admits the system with respect to Yellow Cab is broken,  even after he has taken their money.  Puts him ahead of most of the other council members in my book.

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

In the future, please do not quote a city council member in an Uber/Yellow Cab story without nothing how much money they've received from Yellow Cab. For example, the DMN reported that Lee Kleinman received the following donation from Yellow Cab: Lee Kleinman – $1,000, 6/4/2013


Dallas City Council is for sale, and you're doing us a huge disservice without pointing this out in every story.

Neal_K
Neal_K

We are fortunate that Kleinmann is so lacking in self-awareness that he's willing to put his ignorance, stupidity and corruption right out there for all of us to see.  Prepare the tar and feathers.  


Mayor Mike, are you listening?

moore583
moore583

He's just worried about the City's cut. Cabs do smell bad. Uber all the way.

ryan762
ryan762

So is he claiming that we should change the regulations to regulate Uber and then not actually enforce any of the regulations (like we don't with Yellow)?

markzero
markzero

Interesting tactic, admitting Yellow doesn't follow the rules to which he wants Uber to be accountable. Sounds like favoritism, of course.


WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

Does this mean that Uber cars will need to be stinky dirty and the drivers incompetent to level the playing field with many Taxis?

ubermaverick1
ubermaverick1

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DaveBobSutton
DaveBobSutton

Kleinman is right. The playing field for Uber and other Dallas taxis should be even. (Uber is a taxi service because it operates as such). The rules should be the same.

This way the rules will be more enforceable.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Kleinman may have hit the nail on the head with the line "We can lift the regulation on the taxis and maybe create a more consistent environment that's less regulated across the board for everyone." 


Lift the regs on taxi's.  Let them compete with Uber on an equal footing.  Yellow will be in the Red before the grass is green again.  All things being equal on the legislative front, Uber will always beat out traditional taxi service, because Uber's model is current and it's what people want.  Yellow knows this, Kleinman knows this.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

Watch how he and Hill(especially Hill) put the screws to Uber in the weeks to follow. Money talks and bulshit walks at 1500 Marilla.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

My understanding is the Uber drivers have been licensed by the city as limos. one would think the city's limo mandates are sufficient (and similar to taxi regs regarding safety) to satisfy Kleinman and his insistence that "With regards to Uber...we just want--we want to make sure we have regulations in place that provide safety."

the discussion should be on two questions: one, is Uber operating legally (the answer appears to be yes), and two is the taxi industry operating legally (the answer appears to be no).

Rather than focusing on Uber, Council and the Transportation Committee need to look at the taxi industry and why/how they are currently not operating according to the city code. from unenforced insurance mandates to complaints from customers regarding credit cards and refusal of service, things are not as they should be with taxis.

markzero
markzero

@ubermaverick1 dude, spamming comments is extremely low. If you're really with Uber, buy an ad so the paper stays in business.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@DaveBobSutton

Kleinman's not talking about evening the playing field.

He's talking about enforcing laws against Uber that are not enforced against Yellow.


RobertStinson
RobertStinson

You're right DaveBobSutton. We should lift the regulations on taxis and make car transportation a free market. I agree with you that current taxi regulations are anti-competitive and and anti-business. Dallas is pro-business

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@RTGolden1

That's a good point.

If we just do away with safety laws, Yellow could be more competitive.


WylieH
WylieH

Actually, the proper phrase is "money talks and concern for citizens walks at 1500 Marilla."

WylieH
WylieH

Attempting to regulate Uber is plain silly, the emphasis needs to be on ensuring that the limos that participate in its system are legally operating--- and all evidence indicates they are.


Look at restaurants as an analogy:  your local McDonalds isn't owned by McDonalds, its typically owned by a local entrepreneur.  The City doesn't try to regulate McDonalds for having its name on the sign, instead they regulate the individual property, to ensure that it is built in conformance with building code and operated in compliance with the health code.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@WylieH

That would be a good solution- if this were about public safety.

But this isn't about public safety.

It's about how much Yellow has contributed to evangelical candidates, and how much they want in return.



mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@WylieH

uber is operating a business, a business segment that has rules and regs, and they should be held to those standards. uber is merely a new delivery model to a need that's been around forever.

uber advertises the drivers all are licensed, seems this is a limo license. uber has the obligation to make sure those drivers uber sends to a customer comply with these rules/regs.

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