Uber, thanks in no small part to Dallas' reactionary, lobbyist-led crackdown, has been getting a lot of love in recent weeks. Uber's convenient, fast, chic, and fits nicely into the role of a dashingly handsome David taking on Yellow Cab's Goliath.
If this Uber love has geographic center, it's in somewhere north of I-30, in a neighborhood flush with young professionals with disposable income. South of the interstate, on the other hand, some leaders are sounding alarm bells.
In an editorial this weekend in the North Dallas Gazette, two prominent southern Dallas pastors, Kirkwood CME's Jerry Christian (a city of Dallas appointee to DART's board of directors) and Mt. Tabor Baptist's Stephen C. Nash, warn that Uber and its imitators are disenfranchising southern Dallas customers.
They don't mention Uber by name, but there's little question that's who they're referring to when they say that the "leading black car for hire service provider cherry picks and profiles its customers."
To hire their vehicle a potential customer must have a credit card on file and agree to pay in advance when requesting service on his or her smart phone. Unlike taxis, black cars don't accept cash.
According to its app-based website, debit and prepaid credit cards are not accepted either.
That means black car service is out of reach for a number of our members since debit and prepaid cards may be their only credit cards.
Unfortunately, people of color know a lot about profiling. From redlining loans to walking at your own risk in upscale neighborhoods, "profiling" to us conjures up ugly historical barriers.
Our history is full of documented profiling; and profiling, whether done secretly or done in plain sight, has not been good for us.
Already, those companies "ignore our community without penalty." If that's allowed to continue, Christian and Nash worry that traditional taxicabs will follow suit, leaving 45 percent of the city's population without access to a vital link in the city's public transportation system.
The essay stops short of calling for an outright ban on Uber, but not by much. They urge the City Council and Mayor Mike Rawlings to create a level playing field by forcing app-based, ride-for-hire services to comply with the same rules that govern taxis, thus ensuring "uniform vehicle for hire service both North and South of Interstate 30."
"If the city does not force all service providers to play by the same regulated rules," they write, "finding a taxi in Southern Dallas may become as rare as finding a black car for hire."