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Vehicles for hire vote put off till end of July

Seriously?

The Houston City Council delayed a vote until July 30 on regulations for the vehicles-for-hire industry, keeping Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc.’s legal status in Houston in limbo.

Council member Mike Laster proposed an initial delay of 60 days, saying, “I believe this cake is not fully baked.”

The delay was then reduced to 45 days.

“I think council wants to be able to get to a point to say ‘yes’ to opening up the markets to a new element to these new app companies. They want to make sure that the long-standing current stakeholders, their business models, continue to provide for them an opportunity to do well within a competitive marketplace,” Laster told the Houston Business Journal. “The whole point is that the stakeholders that would have to be regulated underneath the ordinance have by and large said, ‘This not ready.’”

The vote is now scheduled for July 30, or until a consensus is met by all the stakeholders involved in negotiations. Several council members, including C.O. “Brad” Bradford, didn’t feel the delay was necessary and asked for the vote to take place sooner rather than later.

“It is time to vote,” Bradford said during the meeting. “What is it that we’re going to do with additional days?”

Mayor Parker agreed with CM Bradford on that, which should tell you something. I agree with them both. Perhaps this meant there weren’t enough votes for passage, but I kind of doubt that. I suspect it was just that enough Council members didn’t feel comfortable with their votes just yet. What that means going forward, I have no idea.

From KPRC:

Taxi companies are trying to put the brakes on the proposed new regulations.

They say Lyft and Uber drivers are uninsured, unsafe and don’t have equipment to pick up disabled passengers.

“We’re not against competition, we’ve never been against competition,” said Roman Martinez, President of the Greater Houston Transportation Company. “We want to make sure everybody is playing by the same rules. I think the public expects that. I think the public expects safety is taken into consideration and also consumer protection.”

Representatives from Uber and Lyft also attended Wednesday’s council meeting.

Uber sent Local 2 a statement which read in part, “Today’s City Council decision to delay the creation of a permanent regulatory home for ridesharing and allow for modernized transportation options in Houston, is disappointing. Houston residents deserve access to safe, reliable and affordable transit choices and the motion to delay stifles competition and limits choice.Since Uber’s launch in Houston, we’ve seen an overwhelming response from all users. We look forward to continuing to work with the city to ensure Uber is able serve the residents of Houston, and that all consumers can continue to benefit from expanded transportation options.”

My guess is that the taxi companies were behind the push for delay, which if I’m right probably ought to make Uber and Lyft a little nervous. On the bright side, this is gonna be a great summer for the City Hall lobbyist community.

One more thing:

While the city continues to weigh these proposed regulations, a federal judge has set a July 15 court date to hear the request for an injunction against the ride-sharing companies that was filed by cab companies

That lawsuit was filed in April. The request by the cab companies for a temporary restraining order against Uber and Lyft was denied. I’ll be surprised if an injunction is granted, but I’ve been surprised before.

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One Comment

  1. PDiddie says:

    I’m all in favor of cracking down on the illegals in the interim. And if the City has any budget room to hire additional inspectors/enforcement compliance officers, I’ll make myself available for hire in the short term (it’s my slow season).

    But only if I get handcuffs, a nightstick, and some pepper spray. Shouldn’t require a sidearm, but hey, you never know what might come up…

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