MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - In the wake of Uber returning to Midland, the city is now leveling the playing field among ride-sharing apps and taxi companies operating in the area.
The Midland City Council voted in favor of amending the decades old taxi ordinance to allow taxi companies more freedom in operation, similar to what is given under the Transportation Networking Companies (TNC) ordinance.
It all comes after the revised TNC ordinance was passed last year, which allows ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft to operate in the city.
Uber did not like the first provisions of the ordinance so they opted to pull service from Midland. The city then agreed to make changes to bring back the ride-sharing app in June.
A major concern for taxi companies, who opposed the ordinance, is the level of leniency given to TNC's compared to what is allowed under the taxi ordinance.
"The taxi ordinance hadn't been revisited for decades. This is a pretty old ordinance that's based on a traditional idea of what taxis do, but even that is changing a little bit as companies like Uber and Lyft come in and kind of force their hand and get them to look at their business practices as well," said City of Midland Public Information Officer, Sara Bustilloz.
Some of the changes include prices for permits and fare rates. Under the previous ordinance, taxi companies paid for permits on every vehicle in their fleet. There will now be a cap on the price that will not exceed what a TNC pays for permitting annually. The city also has a maximum rate that taxi driver can charge customers, but now drivers and passengers can negotiate a different price up front.
Since TNC's are lenient with what type of vehicle is used, the city removed requirements for the model and age of vehicles that taxi drivers use.
"We wanted to make sure that we had a pretty level playing field between the two, but they do have different business models and obviously safety of the citizens is our number on priority as we make these decisions," said Bustilloz.