City Responses To Uber Threats Cite Background Check Catches, Data Uber Sued To Keep Private

CITY RESPONSES TO UBER THREATS CITE BACKGROUND CHECK CATCHES, DATA UBER SUED TO KEEP PRIVATE Uber HQ in Houston, 5714 Star Lane, Houston, 77057Mayor Turner held a press conference this week in response to Uber’s current PR push regarding Houston’s licensing requirements on Uber drivers. The rideshare company and ubiquitous favorite ‘[blank] of [industry]’ fill-in is threatening to pull out of Houston over the city’s rule that drivers must pass more stringent (specifically, more fingerprint-requiring) background checks than what Uber internally requires. Turner says the city’s checks have turned up criminal history in applicants already OK’d by Uber’s screening processes, including charges for DWI, assault, and murder. Meanwhile, city administrator Lara Cottingham tells Michael Barajas that Uber’s claims of drivers waiting 4 months for city licenses are exaggerated; the actual normal wait is a few weeks, Cottingham says, but the city can’t release data to support that because Uber sued in 2015 to block open records requests regarding its business practices. “The number of drivers is increasing, their revenue is increasing, everything seems to be working out for them very, very well,” said Cottingham, adding that because of the lawsuit she “can’t tell you how successful they are.” Uber lobbied last legislative season for less-stringent state-level licensing rules that would supercede local regulations. [KHOU, Houston Press; previously on SwamplotPhoto of Houston Uber HQ, 5714 Star Ln.: Uber Houston

4 Comment

  • I am getting a little tired of techno-bullying. Just because your product is innovative does not mean you get to bully your way through the regulatory environment. The Uber app is great, but they do not get a pass on background checks just because they have new technology. Teslas are pretty cool. But Elon Musk doesn’t get to shred state franchise laws just because his cars have a battery instead of an internal combustion engine.

  • “Meanwhile, city administrator Lara Cottingham tells Michael Barajas that Uber’s claims of drivers waiting 4 months for city licenses are exaggerated; the actual normal wait is a few weeks, Cottingham says”

    Have you ever dealt with the city? 4 months sounds about right for the city. Those knuckleheads can’t even run a lemonade stand.

  • Every city is different in its citizens’ needs and preferences (as this Uber-vs-Houston mini-feud demonstrates) and unlocking the magic combination of parameters (more or less the same parameters across on-demand services) should be a process of relentless boom-and-bust with local companies appearing and disappearing over a span of months, not a handful of small imperialist companies bullying entire cities into compliance. So really, the problem is Silicon Valley’s notoriously tone-deaf approach to everything, coupled with being massively over-funded with the goal of literally bullying their way into what they hope is profitability.

  • SCREW Uber – another techno bully. I want t o know if my driver has INSURANCE, has no criminal background and is properly vetted. Uber obviously can’t play by the rules that apply to the rest of us. It can LEAVE and don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split ya !! @ herb: Try 6-9 months to get building permits approved. The whole COH bureaucracy is joke, run by 2nd and 3rd rate employees who are paid to take their sweet ass time.