Fort Worth

Rules for Uber, Lyft on the horizon in Fort Worth

Hector Ramos drives for Uber in Fort Worth on Friday, December 19, 2014. Fort Worth is planning to regulate app-based transportation companies like Uber and Lyft, which are currently unregulated by the city.
Hector Ramos drives for Uber in Fort Worth on Friday, December 19, 2014. Fort Worth is planning to regulate app-based transportation companies like Uber and Lyft, which are currently unregulated by the city. Star-Telegram archives

Regulations for Uber and Lyft are on the horizon, but City Council members say they want to focus on safety and avoid overregulating the app-based market.

“There is a tendency anytime we look at something to want to regulate something. And what we are really looking for and our task as a city is to ensure that our visitors and citizens are safe, they have a convenient customer service and they have a good taste in their mouth when they leave Fort Worth or use a service in Fort Worth,” Councilman Jungus Jordan said.

Jordan, who sits on a regional committee that aims to standardize the quality of ride services throughout North Texas, warned the staff not to create a bureaucracy.

Uber and its rival Lyft are revolutionizing the vehicle-for-hire industry in the U.S. and other countries by encouraging customers to use a smartphone app to request a ride — tip-free. But traditional cab operators, which must be licensed and permitted by the city, complain that the tech-savvy companies aren’t regulated.

In Fort Worth, taxicabs, limousines, shuttles — even pedicabs and horse-drawn carriages — are regulated through annual operating fees, vehicle inspections, stiff insurance requirements, criminal background checks and drug testing.

Regulations for app-based companies could include permitting them like limousines, with annual licensing, commercial insurance, an age limit on vehicles and drug testing, said Doug Wiersig, director of transportation and public works.

Rates would still be market-driven, but a preliminary recommendation is to charge a $150 application fee and $50 per vehicle.

Wiersig is also creating a stakeholders working group with representatives from the taxi, limousine, shuttle and app-based industries, as well as hoteliers and representatives from the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

That group is scheduled to finish meeting by April and present recommendations to the council.

Wiersig said the city will also keep pursuing a regional vehicle-for-hire ordinance with the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Dallas recently created new guidelines for vehicles for hire, creating two tiers of insurance coverage and allowing all vehicles that pass a 31-point inspection to be used rather than setting a vehicle age limit.

Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984

Twitter: @catyhirst

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