Unveiled Dallas ground transportation proposal aims to even playing field

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on April 25, 2014 at 6:25 PM

DALLAS -- A sweeping transportation proposal in Dallas could change the way residents and visitors get around town in taxis, limos, and use services like Uber and Lyft.

Councilwoman Sandy Greyson publicly released a proposal Friday that she called “innovative” to create a level playing field for all ground transportation providers.

This follows seven months of investigative reports from News 8 exposing more than a decade of major passenger safety violations from Yellow Cab and a lack of oversight from City Hall.

Small transportation companies and drivers have complained for years that transportation rules at City Hall were always tipped in favor of Yellow. Today, when Greyson opened discussion, the little guys were nearly giddy.

“I don’t know how to say this, but I know if this was a movie and you were the star, I think you would win the Academy Award for it,” said Berhane Alemayeh with the Association of Limo Owners and Operators of DFW. He was one of five industry representatives who worked with Greyson over seven sessions before she made her proposal.

“Oh, thank you," Greyson responded. "We all worked so hard on this. We listened to you and we worked so hard.”

Among other things, Greyson’s plan would remove a cap on the total number of taxis in operation, which kept competition out. It would also eliminate the regulation of fares in favor of free market pricing. That’s something technology newcomers Lyft and Uber like, even though they’ve long resisted any regulation.

News 8's David Schechter asked Leandre Jones, the Dallas representative for Uber, if the company will allow itself to be regulated in Dallas.

“It hasn’t been seen, as to the finality of this whole thing, but what again is coming out of this is something that gets us closer -- gets us closer to being in a very comfortable state in Dallas,” Jones said.

The loser is clearly Yellow Cab. The old rules and weak regulation at City Hall allowed it to grow and buy out competitors on the way to controlling an estimated 70 percent of the market.

After Friday’s meeting, Jack Beweley, Yellow’s president, spoke to the fairness of the process.

“Oh, I think any process is fair. You just have to go through the process," he said. "So I won’t say there hasn’t been a fair process, we just need to let the process work out."

And the process, politically speaking, is far from over.

The way things stand today, Yellow Cab is required to provide city-wide services, even in economically-challenged areas. If that is no longer required, there will certainly be council members who will challenge any plan that jeopardizes their constituents' access to transportation.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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