Uber and Lyft Are Now Fully Street Legal in Houston

UBER AND LYFT ARE NOW FULLY STREET LEGAL IN HOUSTON Lyft Driver Outside City Hall, HoustonBy a 10-to-5 vote, city council members gave approval this afternoon to a measure that allows Uber and Lyft to operate alongside taxi services in the city. It only took a year-long battle, several vote delays, and (today) a slew of attached amendments covering disability access, insurance requirements, and private contact with customers to be thrown in. [Houston Business Journal] Photo: Miya Shay

26 Comment

  • Does anyone know where I can find the breakdown of the vote?

  • Something that the Chron never seems to mention………. the last funding round has Uber valued at around $17B. Yep that’s a “B”.

    Some serious VC money behind these guys.

  • @bg – My count of the votes

    No – Davis, Gallegos, Kubosh, Bradford & Christie

    Absent – Martin & Pennington

    Yes – Everyone else

    Interesting that Martin & Pennington both slipped out before the final vote after throwing up road blocks all day long.

  • Finally! I’ve been using Lyft since they arrived in Houston. It’s really quite something to press a single button on your phone and have your driver show up within a few minutes. I once had a driver show up in 30 seconds, never had a single issue with them. Yellowcab on the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever had a good experience with, I hope they get what they deserve in the long run.

  • Id also like to see a breakdown. As well as quoted arguments against.
    I honestly can’t think of any arguments. I always go back to this: ask 20 can riders what their opinions of taxis are. As 20 uber/lift riders the same.
    If taxi drivers think it’s unfair, become a uber/lyft driver (on second hand, please don’t. There is a reason everyone hates cabs)

  • I haven’t used the new services yet but it seems everyone has good experience, but I did have to use yellow cab a few times and it was certainly a third world experience… Smelly, extremely rude drivers with no sense of direction or understanding of traffic laws. One guy started yelling because he didn’t have change from a $20, that was his attempt for me to say screw it and leave the change as extra tip. Oh nay nay!

  • grrr, definitely going to have a chat with Gallegos next time I see him

    so so glad we have better (and now official/legal!) options than cabs now!!!!!!! how amazing is it to see where the lyft/uber is and be able to call the driver as they are coming to you if needed… amazing. Don’t have to deal with rude operators that won’t give you an ETA of the yellow cab.

  • The terrible cab service in this city is probably the cause of many drunk driving accidents and deaths. When I was younger I used to go out to clubs downtown and attempted to use cabs when I had drinks. I sometimes had to wait over an hour for a cab to show up. With cab service that bad people just drink and drive.

  • I’ve heard mostly wonderful things about Uber, Airbnb and other peer-to-peer services. Enjoy them while they last, because eventually the legal beagles will catch up and squash them. Localities are gradually devising rules about liability, worker’s comp, etc, etc, and before you know it, Uber will look like any other cab company.

  • Yellow Cab would have no problem with competition if it’s service was up to par. Even if Uber and Lyft were the same price as yellow cab, they’d be a better product. Faster. Easier. (generally) Friendlier. I’m all for leveling the playing field in regards to regulations, etc. but really yellow cab (at least in this city) opened the door to competitors by having such poor service.

  • Does anyone know where they will operate – within the loop, beltway, city limit, etc? Or do they operate all the way out to the burbs? SL, Katy, Woodlands, and so on?

  • Ryan, you can open either app and see.

    On the map you can see if there are any cars near you. You can move your marker to any of those locations and see if there are any cars available. It won’t let you book if there is nobody within 20 minutes or so.

  • Cody:

    The argument against Lyft and Uber is that the playing field isn’t level. Existing transportation companies have to pay more for insurance, handicap accessibility equipment, compliance with regulations, etc. The new services would cost as much or more than the old ones if they had to play by the same rules.

    I don’t know if that argument is true, but it could be.

  • Yellow Cab’s spokesman said that “they’re ready for the competition.” However, instead of improving their service, I’m sure they’ll be spending their time trying to overturn this ruling instead.

  • Ryan: There really isn’t a “they”. Drivers are just drivers. That said, I’m sure you can get dropped off anywhere but my guess is the further you are from ‘town’, the longer you might have to wait for a pickup. Populated areas will naturally have more drivers and faster pickup times.

  • @ryan

    Check their websites out. Both have maps of the coverage area.

  • @ryan, Uber has a map on the website with a shaded area which I assume is where they operate. https://www.uber.com/cities/houston
    I am so happy with this vote. Never taking a yellow cab again! I will also be happy when UberBlack is available here, not just UberX and XL. A truly fantastic service.

  • @ryan: from my reading of the ordinance that was voted upon, Uber and Lyft will be required to serve any address in the city limits of Houston. It will also require cars to have a magnetic sign decal on the door saying it is an Uber or Lyft vehicle.
    Martin kept trying to throw up limits on how many drivers each service could employ ( akin to taxi medallians in NYC), but fortunately his amendments were all voted down. Too bad he had to leave before the final vote, must have some pressing business like a ribbon cutting in KIngwood to attend to.

  • @gisgo you are totally correct. As soon as they realize how much these services are cutting into revenue, the city regulators will shut all of these sharing economy services down.

  • You can find information about the vote on our facebook page.

    The Houston Republican Liberty Caucus worked very hard to educate uber and taxi drivers about the benefits of individual rights, free markets, and limited government. Kubosh supported regulating the TNC like traditional taxis but he spoke about the constitutional rights of free speech for drivers and passengers to exchange contact information. Costello authored what would have been the most restrictive amendments, but ultimately voted against it citing “belief in competition.”

    There was no true champion of freedom and liberty on city council that day, but working together the city normalized its relationship with TNC’s.

    The Houston Republican Liberty Caucus would like to see the ad valorum tax and licensing fees repealed in the near future.

  • I took Yellow Cab and Blue Cab recently to the airport for an extended trip. I was a little disappointed with both. With Yellow Cab, I called the night before to confirm that they would have a vehicle that would accommodate 3 young children (in car seats). The cab arrived 10 mins early (which was not good since trying to move a young family takes time). When we got downstairs, we noticed only 4 seats in the minivan, which caught me off guard. The man said to have the kids sit on our laps. Not sure that was legal (we did put the baby in a car seat). The taxi did drive safely, albeit very slowly. The slowest drive of my life. The vehicle itself was old and a little smelly. The driver asked me how much I wanted to pay (without notifying me that the metered rate was higher than the fix rate, which I knew about). A little annoyed with that.

    On my way home from the airport, I had a blue taxi and the vehicle itself was nice and new. The same story with the seats, so no surprise this time. The cab driver said he could take credit cards and then whips out an Android app that wants to charge me $3, so I say no way. He should have been upfront about this. Again, he asked how much I wanted to pay without mentioning that the fix rate was cheaper. In addition, he was asking for a tip on top of that.

    I can’t say that I’ll be using them again any time soon. We’ll see if I have a need for Uber or Lyft, but my sister loves both companies and has used them multiple times.

  • Cannot believe Houston sold out to Uber Nd Lyft. TAXU drivers will be put out of work. When they first start operating, everything seems fine for a while with the existing taxi business. Then, everyday, business drops off more and more until the predatory pricing of UberX has gain more market power and drives out the competitor. Why is it that the public is so exited about riding in someones personal vehicle. UBERX drivers are only required to have a druvers license, personal auto insurance and a car. Just think about it, these drivers are out of work individuals that cannot find a job, losers that are looking for what they think is easy money, college students possibly here for the summer, retired people who have too much time on their hands. However, none of these things qualifies these indivuduals to transport passengers in and outof Houston. What about these losers should allow the destruction of so many taxi drivers income? Houston taxi drivers get ready for UberX to take over your airports, create more havoc in your already conjested city, what a way to help the enviroment. Great job Houston, you sold out to Uber.

  • So who is stopping the typical cabbie in Houston from joiner Uber if they so choose? The truth is we have had to endure crappy service, crappy vehicles , drivers who don’t the city and high prices just because Yellow Cab has virtually bought off the City Council. It is beyond time for a change. If the cab companies put out a quality product, then they would have nothing to fear.

  • The key with Uber isnt the price point, it is the accountability. That driver knows a few minutes after i get out of that car I am going to rate him/her from 1-5.

  • I think it’s a great move, more competition is never a bad thing. Of all the Uber rides I have taken so far I have only had one right I would consider merely average and it was with a driver who seemed like a Yellow Cab convert – smelly, poor English, didn’t know where he was going even with the GPS active.

    I’m pro Uber, hope they succeed. If Yellow Cab would ever show up when called they would’t have to worry so much.

  • I just wanted to comment on the taxi drivers post. To the customer the exact same thing is offered, a ride. The difference is that they get their faster and provide better service! So the guy that was so worried about cabbies losing their jobs, is a cabbie that I hope loses his job if he is providing the same substandard service that cabbies provide. Using government officials to try and stifle competition, I say is just not American. I also have trouble finding ANY rider who can say that they have had a better experience riding in any cab. Here is a discriprion of a common cab ride: told them there would be children, but no car seat provided! One example had children riding on their parents lap! Very professional! When most people think of a cab the first word that comes to mind is SMELLY. That’s because they are. There are countless stories of cabbies saying they don’t have change, etc, etc, anything to force you to pay more. So I hope you have been fired and that these awesome new services refuse to hire you. When a product is really really bad, something better eventually rises to replace it. You don’t work for yellow cab you work for us! If we don’t use yellow cab, yellow cab goes bankrupt. See? We don’t have to wait for over an hour to be treated badly and overcharged! Don’t you get it? We ARE your bosses mr. Smelly, and your FIRED!