Ride-hailing firms such as Uber and Lyft will offer valuable services long into the future in Kansas City — if they can get past City Hall.
On Thursday, a City Council committee will meet again to discuss the new businesses that want to compete with taxicabs to move people around this area. The city’s goal should be finding a way to welcome the new business model to town while still keeping in place clear, reasonable regulations that govern passenger-carrying services.
At this point, the city still could do more to reduce the costly and complicated rules that have been in place for many years, largely to oversee traditional taxicab companies. These include simplifying how drivers are licensed.
However, some protests from Uber and Lyft backers over the city’s newly pending rules have been a bit over the top. After all, their business model — which involves ride-hailing apps along with positive additions such as being able to track a ride’s route on a cellphone — is still just another way to get people from one point to another in Kansas City.
In other words, it’s what taxicabs do.
The city’s challenge is to embrace this change in the ride-hailing market while keeping in place rules to make sure passengers are driven in safe, fully insured vehicles by people who have gone through background checks.
The city should back away from erecting too many obstacles for the large number of part-time drivers for Uber, Lyft and similar companies that may come to town in the future.
They could be a boon to public transportation in Kansas City by increasing competition and keeping a lid on fares, all of which should benefit local passengers.