City Desk

Uber Makes Gains on Sedan Regulations, While Competitor Hailo Plays Nice

After today's Council hearing on cab and sedan regulations, it seems like Uber and the D.C. Council might finally stop fighting. That's good news for Uber, because incoming competitor Hailo is more than happy to work with the Council if Uber won't.

"We are committed to working with the City Council, the D.C. Taxi Cab Commission, and City Hall," said Hailo founder Jay Bregman, playing the nice guy (or, perhaps, Eddie Haskell) to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

Hailo's app connects passengers with regular cabs, while Uber's dispatches sedans, but the services could still be in competition for passengers—and legislators' goodwill. Bregman even had a London taxi official Skype in from the U.K. to talk up how well Hailo works with regulators.

Contrast that with Kalanick, who's still feeling bruised after a dispute with Committee on the Environment, Public Works, and Transportation Chair Mary Cheh over the council's failed attempt to impose a price floor on Uber. At one point in his testimony, Kalanick and Cheh got in a fight over whether they were fighting (Cheh insisted they weren't).

Councilmember Jim Graham was less conciliatory. Witness this exchange, when Graham asked Kalanick how a driver would go about partnering with Uber.

Graham: "You don't know me, I don't know you. We're not cousins."

Kalanick: "We're getting to know each other, though."

Graham: "You don't know me at all."

So sharp! Councilmembers frequently returned to Uber's peak pricing, which can mean higher fees on weekend nights. Kalanick defended the practice, saying that it's no different than a club charging a higher cover on Saturday than Thursday.

Still, Kalanick and Uber got some good news out of the hearing. Cheh agreed that several of the sedan regulations proposed last week by the D.C. Taxi Cab Commission were unreasonable, including one that requires the sedan companies Uber partners with to either have only one car or more than 20.

"I want to send you away feeling optimistic," Cheh said to Kalanick.

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  • WhataDisgrace

    Graham: "You don't know me at all."

    You're new here, so let me introduce myself. I am the crooked councilman who has been in bed with the taxi industry for years. They've paid for my foreign travel expenses and contributed generously to me whenever I have asked. In fact, my chief of staff and closest confidant went to jail for taking bribes from taxi interests. That's who I am. So I will not let you derail my gravy train - unless, of course, you are inclined to become a generous supporter. (wink wink)

  • Question

    When Graham was in the bed with the taxi interests what role did he play? Was he the top or bottom?

  • DC Antics

    The fact Graham hasn't been held accountable yet boggles me.

  • joan

    Diamond Jim - soon to be wearing an orange jumpsuit! Oh happy day.

  • Nancy

    Thanks to the careening price increases for DC cabs, the difference between cab fare & uber for trips I've taken has been $5 or less. What used to be a $12 cab trip under the old Zone system bumped to $17 with meters and is now $25. So forgive me for not having any pity left over for DC cabs or the commission and any of its buddies on the Council.

  • Bob

    "When Graham was in the bed with the taxi interests what role did he play? Was he the top or bottom?"

    When it comes to Uber, Jim Graham cheerfully assumes the "Unter" position for the taxi interests!

  • Will Sommer

    Bob & Co.:

    Your pun's not bad, but it's homophobic crap! What's the deal?

  • Bob

    The "deal" is that Jim Graham deserves prison. But, then again, he'd probably enjoy it too much.

  • Chris

    Forget politics, as the best trained cab drivers around the world the London cabbie who spend around four years studying the roads of London and 25.000. Places of interest they are the most regulated form of transport anywhere, they have taken to Hailo in a big way, the customers love it and so do the cabbies.

    Be lucky