Officials stand their ground after Uber threatens to leave Houston

Uber has threatened to leave the city of Houston if city officials don't change current guidelines for Uber drivers. Mayor Turner said Tuesday every ridesharing service in the city operates under the same safety guidelines and will not change them for Ube

HOUSTON - Mayor Turner held a press conference on Wednesday after Uber threatened to remove drivers from Houston if city officials did not adjust their ridesharing regulations.

Uber published a press release to its site detailing why the service is considering leaving the Houston area. 

Uber says the Houston City Council's decision to adopt ridesharing regulations are different from rules introduced in other cities and are hindering Uber's ability to improve transportation. 

Houston's rules call for fingerprinting of drivers, among other requirements, in an attempt to improve safety for passengers.

Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner, said officials want Uber to stay in the city if the company follows the guidelines already in place. 

"For Uber, for the cabs, limousine companies, everyone is operating under the same set of rules and I think it is inherently unfair for Uber to be demanding one set of rules for them and a different set of rules for someone else." said Mayor Turner. 

City council officials said since the ordinance became effective, the city's fingerprint-based FBI background check found several applicants had prior criminal history with charges including Murder, DWI and Sexual Assault. 

City council officials added those same applicants had already been cleared through a commercial criminal background check.

Turned also said he is unhappy that Uber is lobbying in Austin to have the fingerprinting requirement repealed on the state level.

He said Uber has spent $3 million dollars on that campaign without a single phone call to his office on the matter.

The company says Houston's rules make it much harder for qualified people to become drivers, meaning service is less reliable for passengers who want to get around the city. 

Uber claims its drivers must complete time-consuming and expensive steps to obtain a license to drive on the ridesharing platform.

The company says they will work with the city in the next few months, but if an agreement is not made, Uber will cease operations in Houston.  

Some local Uber drivers believe the company is going too far. 

"Basically like any other job you have to go through a process." said Jason Garrett, who currently drives for Uber full time. 

He said he had no problems when he went through the background process three months ago. 

Mayor Turner said while he would like the company to stay, he is not bending the rules. 

"To tell the city of Houston that you either give us what we want or we are gone, recognizing that the Super Bowl is coming down the road, is not the way you play business in the fourth largest city in the country." said Turner.


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