Fargo mulls taxi deregulation, but some firms say they'll go Uber's route to avoid rules
FARGO - After consulting with local taxi companies, city officials said today they'll propose a limited deregulation that will let the companies set their own fares.
FARGO – After consulting with local taxi companies, city officials said today they'll propose a limited deregulation that will let the companies set their own fares.
But City Auditor Steve Sprague said it's still important for the city to require proof of insurance, vehicle inspections and criminal background checks for drivers.
The discussion among the taxi companies present wasn't about fares, though, but about Uber, the $62.5 billion tech firm that connects independent drivers with passengers. Several taxi operators at the meeting expressed unhappiness at how they have to obey certain rules that they don't necessarily disagree with, but ride-hailing firms like Uber, which is regulated by the state, doesn't have to.
The only one who didn't complain was Jim Peinovich, manager of Doyle's Yellow Checker Cab, who said the state has given the taxi industry a "gift." They should all be ride-hailing companies and enjoy the state's virtually hands-off approach to regulation, he said.
Peinovich wasn't joking. Doyle's is already operating a ride-hailing division that he said the rest of the company will likely transition into.
Other taxi operators didn't express a desire to move in that direction, but they wanted Uber drivers to be held accountable for violations of state law, or what they think the law says. Of particular concern is the practice by some Uber drivers cruising outside bars soliciting customers as if they were taxi drivers instead of waiting for Uber's app to dispatch them.
Jeff Dodd, who owns Lucky Seven Taxi Service with his wife, Laurie, said his drivers are seeing Uber drivers driving cars with lit signs that say taxi and going into bars with Uber signs.
Sprague said he's not sure what the state allows or doesn't allow and will have to check.