Transportation

City Responds To Uber’s Threats To Leave Houston

The rideshare company says background check requirements are making it hard for them to operate. But Mayor Sylvester Turner says the priority is public safety.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says accommodations were made for Uber after they started operating in the city illegally.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says accommodations were made for Uber after they started operating in the city illegally.

Uber says Houston’s permitting process for drivers is one of the most burdensome in the country, and they duplicate security measures the company already has in place. Their biggest complaint is that drivers have to give their fingerprints.

In a letter to city council, Uber says those regulations have led to a shortage of drivers. The company says if the rules don’t change, they’ll cease operations in Houston. Mayor Sylvester Turner responded by saying he hopes Uber stays, but public safety is the top priority.

“The city’s fingerprint background check found that hundreds of Uber applicants for licenses, who had been through their background check, had prior criminal histories,” says Turner, “for murder, assault and battery, indecent exposure.”

And District A Councilwoman Brenda Stardig questions the timing of Uber’s move. She says the company was in agreement when the regulations were hammered out a year and a half ago.

“And for them to come back now and circle after we spent so much time working with them, working with them and others, to come to an agreement on how we could move forward, it’s disappointing,” adds Stardig.  

Houston isn’t the only city that Uber is threatening to leave. Voters in Austin will decide next month whether rideshare drivers have to undergo similar fingerprint background checks.

 

Uber’s letter to Houston’s City Council

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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