A debate that began more than a year ago when City Manager A.C. Gonzalez tried to slip an ordinance that would have banned car services like Uber and Lyft in Dallas will likely end December 10, when the council takes up new regulations for transportation-for-hire businesses.
The new regulations that will probably pass on the 10th -- it's clear that the proposal has at least eight votes from the 14 members of the council and the mayor -- are very similar to the existing regulations for cab companies, but they at least attempt incorporate the cell phone app-based services like Uber in a way that won't render them useless.
The big takeaways from the new regulations are uniform requirements for insurance, vehicle permits and driver permits across all platforms. Cars that are part of the app-based services' fleet will also now need to be identifiable with something like a decal or sticker.
Any car that is available but not carrying a passenger will need to have insurance of $50,000 per person, $100,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage. Cars capable of carrying up to eight passengers need a combined $500,000 in coverage. Cars that can carry more than eight people need $1 million in total insurance. All drivers for an transportation-for-hire company will be required to get a permit from the city, as will their cars.
Starting in 2020, the regulations call for vehicles that are Smartway certified to be given front of the line privileges at Love Field. Smartway is a standard established to certify low emission vehicles. If an agreement is reached with Fort Worth and the airport, those privileges would extend to DFW as well.
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The final deal is fair in that it should leave all parties involved a little bit upset. Yellow Cab would've liked for Uber and Lyft to have been subject to the same regulated pricing that cabs are, while the app-based services having to certify each car and driver that participates in the service for any amount of time will prove to be a headache. Council member Philip Kingston, perhaps the biggest backer of Uber and Lyft on the council, says the regulations will stifle innovation and make things to hard on the app-based companies. Tennell Atkins, Carolyn Davis and Sheffie Kadane -- all of whom have received multiple campaign donations from Yellow Cab -- are unhappy because the playing field is no longer quite as tilted in the company's favor. Everybody lost, so everybody won.
Assuming the vote goes the way it looks like it will next month, the new regulations would go into effect in April 2015 as Vonciel Jones Hill, the chairwoman of the council's Transportation and Trinity River committee repeatedly asserted Monday that her committee was done with the proposed regulations.