A friend who is coming over for dinner this weekend included the phrase in a response e-mail, "Uber!" Another responded that he recently used Uber and got a date...with the driver. Such positive experience from an essentially outlawed form of transportation until now. On Wednesday, City Council voted 10-5 to allow car services like Uber and Lyft to operate in Houston. It took five hours of deliberation over a series of amendments, but they did finally get it passed.
Amendments that made it through included some protections for citizens with disabilities including requiring five percent of fleets must be wheelchair-accessible within three years. Companies must provide equal access or face suspension of licenses. Key insurance provisions were also included requiring insurance on passengers from beginning to end of trips. There had been some concern over insurance for passengers of Uber and Lyft.
Finally, additional measures must be put in place to insure personal information is not passed between rider and driver. This passed, but was not without dissent. Given the fact that some drivers may want to communicate with passengers later (see my friend and his date), this does seem a bit over the top. It's one thing to scramble information via technology -- something Uber and Lyft both do -- but if someone is going to write his/her name down on a piece of paper, who are we to tell them no?
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Setting that aside, it's a new dawn for car services in Houston. Everyone I have spoken to have given rave reviews of their experiences with Uber and Lyft. Now, those services can carry passengers legally.