On Wednesday, Mayor Annise Parker sent Uber a blunt message: give the city your detailed plan for ensuring all Uber drivers are permitted with the city or we'll revoke your permit.
Seems Uber took the mayor's warning seriously. On Friday, as requested, the company's lead official in Texas sent Parker a letter detailing the company's efforts to crack down on divers who aren't permitted with the city.
In his letter, Chris Nakutis tells Parker that the company will continue to identify and deactivate drivers who are working off the app but don't have a city-required permit. Nakutis says the company's "process has evolved from multiple checks per week to daily verification that driver partners without city licenses are not attempting to pick up riders in Houston."
Nakutis cited information he got from the city's regulatory affairs department, saying the city issued more than 500 licenses to Uber drivers just within the past couple of weeks. Many of those licenses were to drivers whose accounts had been shuttered because they hadn't completed the city licensing process, Nakutis's letter states.
More from Nakutis's letter:
"If we find that a driver partner has accepted ride requests in Houston without a license from the city, we immediately revoke his or her ability to access the Uber platform. In recent weeks, we ramped up our efforts by conducting a manual audit of driver partners on the platform and allocating additional time and resources to enforcement. We also held a series of in-person information sessions for driver partners to reiterate the city's licensing requirements as well as the consequences for non-compliance."
Parker issued this statement late Friday reacting to the letter:
"Uber has complied with the City's deadline for providing a plan for addressing the unlicensed drivers operating within the city limits on their platform. According to Uber's written response, the company has audited its driver partners and instituted a daily verification and deactivation process to address drivers who are attempting to operate in Houston without a Transportation Network Company (TNC) license. Uber has invited the City -- and I have instructed my regulators in the Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department -- to personally witness and verify that Uber's onboarding and daily driver verification processes are adequate to detect and remove any drivers found to be out of compliance with the City Ordinance.
We want to close the door on unpermitted drivers. Over the past few weeks we've seen over 500 drivers come in to be licensed and go through the City's fingerprint-based background check - an increase which is long overdue. I am pleased to see that Uber appears to have taken affirmative steps to end their willful non-compliance and look forward to a report confirming these efforts from my regulatory staff."
Things have been tense between Uber and COH ever since it was discovered that one of the company's drivers has, according to a criminal complaint filed in court, admitted to raping a black-out drunk passenger he took to his apartment.