Houston mayor Sylvester Turner announced Wednesday that the City of Houston has developed a new strategy for regulations concerning vehicles-for-hire that will keep Uber in Houston at least through Super Bowl LI. Today's announcement ends the squabbling between the city and the popular transportation app for now.
The new plan decreases the cost of licensing from $200 to $70, cuts the process in half, and allows drivers to be licensed in under 20 minutes. The policy on requiring fingerprints for a background check will not change.
"I am thrilled we can finally put this issue to rest and focus on the real task at hand—providing a great Super Bowl experience that shows off our City,” Turner said in a statement. "We’ve crafted a proposal that reduces the length and cost of a driver application but still protects public safety. This is a win for drivers and passengers alike. These changes will help make sure that visitors have a seamless experience during the Super Bowl and Houstonians have diverse transportation options to meet the growing needs of our city."
Uber issued a statement of its own, in which Texas general manager Sarfraz Maredia said, “For the past few months, we have worked in good faith with Mayor Turner to come to a compromise that would allow us to stay for the Super Bowl. Uber fully intends to continue operating through the Super Bowl under the City's proposed licensing changes."
Whether individual cities will be allowed to regulation ride sharing apps remains to be seen. The Texas Legislature is expected to consider two proposals that would provide statewide standards, which could allow companies like Lyft and Uber to return to Austin.
In addition to the new regulations, the mayor also announced the launch of Arro, a new app that will allow Houstonians and visitors easier access to the city's 9,000 taxi and limo drivers. The app is available now for both Apple and Android devices.
"We are very excited to bring Arro's consumer and driver friendly app to the people of Houston starting today. Arro's presence is a significant step toward enhancing robust transportation options throughout Houston," said Arro founder Mike Epley. "Our app has already enjoyed great success in several cities by offering a potential boost to drivers’ incomes and providing faster and easier transportation access for passengers. ”