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Uber will remain operating in Houston at least through the Super Bowl, after City Council approved changes to the city’s paid ride rules ironed out between the popular ride-hailing service and Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Council members, after a sometimes contentious discussion on Wednesday, approved the revised city rules for taxis, so-called transportation network companies like Uber and limo providers. The changes – which keep Houston’s fingerprint check for drivers in place but eliminates other requirements to operate here such as a mandatory drug test and physical – came after Uber indicated it would leave rather than cooperate with many of the rules.
Uber Texas general manager Sarfraz Maredia said in a statement the compromise keeps the company operational in Houston through Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5.
“We look forward to partnering with the City to help make the Super Bowl as successful as possible,” Maredia said.
City officials said the changes do not compromise passenger safety, while giving Uber and taxi companies more latitude to quickly and easily enroll drivers. When Uber and other companies that connect riders and drivers via smartphone app hit the road in Houston in early 2014, city officials opted to keep many of the same requirements in place that had existed for taxi drivers. After more than two years of study, the city thinks it can roll back some of the unnecessary rules, said Tina Paez, director of the city’s regulatory affairs department.