Kansas City officials are going in the right direction as they seek the public’s feedback on how to update the city’s regulations regarding taxicab and ride-
The twin goals should be to encourage competition among new and old providers, and to retain responsible rules to protect the public.
Kansans Citians will have their opportunity to comment on this issue at a public meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Southeast Community Center, 4201 E. 63rd St. City Council members and city staff are expected to attend.
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In recent months, ridesharing companies such as Lyft and Uber have disrupted the taxicab markets in many U.S. cities by offering services that largely depend on using mobile phone apps to connect passengers and drivers, and to even pay for rides. The newcomers promise they will deliver competent service with friendly drivers at competitive rates.
Essentially, that could be a legitimate way to improve competition for passengers in Kansas City, where solid public transportation options are still very much lacking.
But established businesses, led locally by the Kansas City Transportation Group and its familiar Yellow Cab service, point out they are required to follow city rules for vehicle safety inspections and drivers’ background checks, all meant to shield the public from harm. In short, that means following bureaucracy set up years or decades ago at City Hall.
Both sides make some reasonable points. City officials should focus on finding good ways to change and update their regulations. That includes reviewing what many other large cities are doing regarding newcomers in their taxicab industries.
In addition, the city ought to scrutinize another hot issue regarding who’s allowed to provide rides from hotels and Kansas City International Airport. Some current exclusivity arrangements may have to be jettisoned.
City Manager Troy Schulte needs to bring a comprehensive set of proposals forward in early 2015. Given the increased interest in providing better public transportation, Kansas City must try to increase competition that will safely serve rideshare and taxicab passengers looking to get from Point A to Point B in this city.