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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.