Afternoon Jolt

Friday Jolt: Cab Lobbyist vs. Bruce Harrell

City Council member Bruce Harrell is not amused by a taxi lobbyist's outburst at a heated meeting on carsharing services.

By Erica C. Barnett May 24, 2013


Afternoon Jolt

Just a Jolt : Near the end of a heated, two-hour meeting on ridesharing services yesterday, Yellow Cab lobbyist Chris Van Dyk started yelling at city council member Bruce Harrell, prompting Harrell to deliver a stern lecture on the need for people to be "professional," even when dealing with heated issues like taxi regulations. 

The taxi lobby opposes ridesharing and carsharing services like Lyft, Car2Go, and Sidecar because they aren't subject to the same regulations and licensing requirements as taxi drivers and because, they claim, the services take away business that would otherwise go to taxis.

Supporters say the market for ridesharing is bigger than the market for taxis alone, and that both types of services can coexist. The city lacks the ability to ban services like Sidecar, and has approved permits for up to 500 Car2Go vehicles. 

Check the exchange out here (at around the 119-minute mark).

After Harrell indicated his preliminary support for expanding for-hire and ridesharing services ("I think the market is expanding"), Van Dyk can be heard shouting from the audience, although it's unclear what exactly he's saying. (We're guessing: Ridesharing is bad for taxi drivers?)

Harrell quickly shuts him down, noting sternly, "This is not public testimony!" (Van Dyk had already commented during the formal comment period) and adding, "You’re doing your clients a disservice right now. ... If everyone is going to sit here for two hours and listen to these presentations ... they should at least know what one of the [committee] members is thinking. ... And anyone else who represents clients, I would suggest that you should represemt your clients more professionally than that because that doesn’t help the process. ... That is totally uncalled-for and unprofessional." 

Harrell's comments were followed by a brief outburst of applause from the audience. 

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