Taxicab and Uber code rewrite launches and lurches

taxi-wikipediaA controversial proposed taxicab code rewrite will continue to stir controversy – that was clear after the city manager addressed a city council committee today.

The rewrite done in part to address issues related to services like Uber and Lyft is also awash in a dispute over the existing taxi cab business.

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

City Manager Troy Schulte drew fire from two members of the transportation committee because staff does not recommend forbidding exclusive contracts between a cab company and hotels.

He put the proposed taxicab and transportation vehicle rewrite on the city web site for public comment until early March. Then staff will incorporate changes and present another taxicab code rewrite to the council.

Councilman Dick Davis said the exclusive contracts with Kansas City Transportation Group, which operates Yellow Cab, discriminate against smaller minority or woman owned taxi companies.

Councilman Jermaine Reed called them blatantly discriminatory against minority workers.

Schulte said the exclusionary agreements do not discriminate because smaller companies can get them as well.

Also, he said, the hotels said they would do business with whatever taxi company they chose, with or without the exclusionary contracts.

The city has no control over the hotels on that, the city manger said, and it is not a public safety issue.

On a related matter, the rewrite does not call for increasing the number of taxi permits over the current 500.

Davis noted that Yellow Cab is capped at 65 percent of those. That was intended to allow room for other companies, he said, but Yellow Cab is using the exclusive contracts to force out the smaller companies.

“What we’ve got is a playing field that is unbalanced that is made possible because we gave Yellow most of the permits,” Davis said.

But Jim Ready, manager of the city’s Regulated Industries, said smaller taxi companies did not want to increase permits because Yellow Cab, with more taxis already operating in Kansas, would bring them in and dominate the market even more.

Among other features in the current rewrite:

  • Taxi and transportation companies of all kinds would have to pay $250 per vehicle, down from $300.
  • They would also have to do background checks on drivers, have vehicles inspected and have insurance on drivers and vehicles.
  •  If companies use trade dress, like a car mustache or a yellow cab, they must use it on all vehicles all the time or not use it all.

To view the proposal and make comments made at:

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