On-demand transportation startup Uber is facing a threat to its business in another of its U.S. markets, as the city of Dallas could soon pass a series of regulations that would seriously hamper its ability to operate there. The rules, which were a late addition to the city council’s meeting agenda this week, would impose new restrictions on how soon limo drivers could pick up passengers and set minimum fares that would make Uber prohibitively expensive.
In a memo to the Dallas City Council, assistant city manager Joey Zapata laid out the proposed regulations, which are aimed at for-hire vehicles. They would prohibit the use of any vehicles with an off-the-lot sticker price of less that $45,000, and would require limo services to be arranged 30 minutes ahead of time. It also seeks to set minimum prices for rides, although they aren’t specified in the memo.
Ensuring that rides would need to be pre-arranged 30 minutes ahead of time would cut into Uber’s promise of fast, convenient transportation, while necessitating a minimum sticker price for vehicles reduces its ability to offer up lower-cost rides through its uberX service.
Meanwhile, there are other proposed regulations that are aimed at the way Uber works: There’s the one requiring a limo driver to only respond to their dispatch company, and another that prohibits the use of any type of metering device (like a phone’s GPS) for determining a ride’s fare. All told, the proposed regulations, if passed, would effectively keep Uber from being able to operate in the market as it has.
That’s nothing new for Uber. After about three years in operation, the company is no stranger to fighting local regulators and governments over restrictive rules and regulations that would threaten to shut it down in various markets. That includes regulatory skirmishes in places like Washington, D.C., Boston, and Denver, among others.
The Dallas regulations are similar in nature to those proposed in Washington, D.C. last year. Initially, members of the city council sought to create a minimum fare for limo services that would have made operations impossible. But Uber was able to reach a deal with the city council, which drafted new rules that legitimized its mobile ride-hailing app there.
In response, Uber passengers launched their own #DallasNeedsUber campaign on the social media. Uber is working to rally the user base further by asking passengers to sign a petition and contact city council members and urge them to vote against the regulations. In just a few hours since being launched, the petition has already attracted more than 8,000 signatures and that number continues to grow.
In other news, Uber just launched in Dubai, which is part of its plans for expansion around the world. Now in more than 40 cities, that expansion will be fueled by a big, $258 million funding round that Uber announced last week.