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Kansas City Council Resolves To Consider Taxi Cab Industry Discrimination

The Kansas City, Mo., City Council wants to know if current city rules regulating the taxi cab industry are unfair to women- and minority-owned businesses.

At issue is an agreement Yellow Cab has to act as an exclusive operator with most of the major downtown and Crown Center hotels. Councilman Dick Davis says that contract is keeping small taxi cab companies from operating in large swaths of the city.

"I think it's a situation where the city is inadvertently discriminating against women- and minority-owned businesses," says Davis, who sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Yellow Cab CEO Bill George told Davis and other members of the committee Thursday he shouldn't be penalized for operating his business successfully.  He says hotels should have the right to contract with the taxi cab company of their choice.

To demand otherwise, he says, would be akin to the city telling grocery stores they couldn't say no to a small produce grower who wanted to sell his products there.

Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo says Davis' resolution asking the city manager to investigate the issue isn't asking the right question. People in other cities, she says, are using Uber and Lyft.

Circo says the city still hasn't figured out to regulate those ride-sharing services. With the entire taxi cab industry in flux, she says, it may not make sense to consider discrimination as a separate issue.

"It's an issue we need to look at, that we need to address, but we're not addressing what's happening right now in Kansas City," she says. "It's short-sighted."

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