Late Monday, Uber officials announced that they were leaving Midland despite several attempts by the Midland City Council to create a business-friendly environment that would also ensure the safety of Midlanders using their services.
The vote made by Council last December provided guidelines for Uber and similar “transportation network companies” that could come to Midland in the future, such as Lyft. Several pieces of the ordinance were taken from Uber’s current business practices; others were taken from ordinances from cities where Uber already operates successfully.
Uber asked for amendments to the City’s ordinance after first reading, including:
- The ability for rideshare drivers to pick up passengers from the airport;
- Creating a streamlined process for licensing drivers; and
- Eliminating the need for a secondary background check by the Midland Police Department.
The City of Midland met all of these requests. In lieu of an additional background check and in order to streamline the process for licensing drivers, Uber officials said they could provide a list of vehicle and drivers’ information electronically on a monthly basis to MPD in order for police to be able to cross-check in case of an accident or crime involving an Uber driver. Uber has since indicated to City officials that this provision, which Uber officials requested, is what is causing them to leave.
We believe that Midlanders deserve to feel safe when using rideshares, and having a database of drivers on file is a simple, basic way we can help prevent an oversight that could lead to a dangerous situation. We are not asking anything of Uber officials that another city where the company successfully operates does not already ask of them. What is good enough for Uber in cities like Dallas and Houston should be good enough for Uber in Midland. Uber has left several other cities over ordinances that are even stricter and returned over time; Uber provides a valuable service and our hope is that Uber will eventually see the benefit of operating in our business-friendly community.