Dallas' Proposed Taxi Rules Would Regulate Uber, Weaken Yellow Cab's Near-Monopoly

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Eight months after nearly regulating Uber out of existence to protect Yellow Cab's near-monopoly in the city, Dallas is set to propose new taxi rules that sorta kinda resemble a free market.

A draft of proposed "transportation for hire" regulations, crafted over several months by a committee led by City Councilwoman Sandy Greyson, were obtained today by WFAA and The Dallas Morning News.

They would do away with much of the existing regulatory framework that has allowed Yellow Cab to enjoy a virtual stranglehold on the market. Gone is the distinction between cabs, limousines and other vehicles per hire. Gone is the cap on the number of cabs (2,022) allowed to operate in Dallas, which made it impossible for new competitors to enter the market. Gone are most of the arbitrary little rules (e.g. front-of-line privileges at Love Field for natural-gas taxis, minimum fleet sizes, minimum costs for vehicles) that helped maintain the status quo.

In place of all that are streamlined regulations designed to create, in the words of the proposed ordinance, a "level playing field." All vehicles -- whether limo, pedicab, Uber town car or traditional taxi -- will be subject to the same regulations. An operating permit allowing a transportation provider to do business in Dallas would cost $1,000 per year. Each driver ($50 per year) and vehicle ($100 per year) would also need city-issued permits.

All transportation-for-hire providers would be required to comply with some other basic rules. They can't discriminate against passengers based on race, sex, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc. They have to operate citywide and can't reject passengers based on the neighborhood they're coming from or going to. They must carry a $1 million commercial automobile insurance policy that's in effect "any time that the driver or the vehicle is working as or available as transportation-for-hire" (this point is key). And so on.

There's a little bit in there for everyone to hate. Yellow Cab will have a tough time keeping its monopoly. Lyft might balk at being forced to operate citywide. Uber probably won't be pleased with a requirement they inform passengers of their fare up front (they currently provide an estimate, which can change). But such is compromise.

Greyson's transportation-for-hire committee will discuss the proposal at City Hall tomorrow morning, then it's on to the City Council.

Draft Ordinance of Transportation-For-Hire by Robert Wilonsky

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