Fort Worth

Fort Worth council again debates Uber, taxi regulations and hits new snag

Uber drivers wait in the pre-arranged transportation lot at Terminal A at D/FW. Fort Worth council members questioning why the city should permit vehicle-for-hire companies at the airport.
Uber drivers wait in the pre-arranged transportation lot at Terminal A at D/FW. Fort Worth council members questioning why the city should permit vehicle-for-hire companies at the airport. Star-Telegram archives

The push to deregulate taxis and ride-booking companies hit a snag during the City Council’s work session Tuesday when council members questioned why the city should continue issuing identification cards and decals for drivers who want to operate at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

Currently, the airport requires drivers to be licensed by Fort Worth or Dallas — the cities that own the airport — and to have a city-issued ID and vehicle decal.

For more than year, Fort Worth city staffers have been rewriting the vehicle-for-hire ordinance, but a month ago council members told them to write an ordinance that for the most part deregulates the industry.

Doug Wiersig, the city’s transportation and public works director, presented the latest version, which calls for companies with motorized and non-motorized vehicles to pay a $500 fee every two years to register with the city. The recommendation also says the company has to be registered with the Texas secretary of state’s office and its drivers compliant with state and federal laws.

But the recommendation also included a $35 driver identification fee and a $10 vehicle decal fee, to be issued every two years, for those who want to operate at the airport. The fee would cover administrative costs, Wiersig said.

Moreover, the company would have to request IDs and decals from the city and issue them to their drivers, he said.

The ordinance would regulate routes and hours for non-motorized vehicles, such as horse-drawn carriages, he said. Otherwise, Wiersig said, the latest ordinance draft has “very little regulation on our part.”

However, Councilman W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman said of the airport IDs and decals, “I don’t understand why we’re doing it. If D/FW has a requirement for this, why don’t they do it?”

As a result, council members said they still were not comfortable with what the staff was proposing and asked for more answers regarding permits for the airport.

“I’m telling you right now, I’m not ready to support it,” said Councilwoman Gyna Bivens. “It’s still muddy. If there’s a fee involved, it should be requested from the one who benefits from it. I just don’t want to see us do a money grab.”

Leandre Johns, an Uber general manager, called the council’s questions “thoughtful” and “positive movement.”

In Dallas, transportation-for-hire companies pay $282 annually to operate in the city, and non-motorized companies pay $278. In addition, there is a $77 permit fee for non-motorized passenger vehicles, and $3 annually for motorized vehicles, according to the city’s website. The fee for a driver’s permit is $53 every two years, it said.

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