Previously a staunch supporter of strict regulations for companies like Uber and Lyft, Mayor Ivy Taylor reversed course Monday, delaying implementation of the ordinance.
"At this time, it is not feasible to implement the insurance standards specified in the existing ordinance because products that provide drivers with the required 'gap' coverage are not yet available in Texas," Taylor said in a statement released to media.
The mayor said City Council will revisit changing the ordinance to "ease the regulatory burden" at its March 5 meeting.
In addition to insurance standards, City Council will reconsider the ten-point fingerprint check required for a permit; allowing random drug testing as an alternative to pre-employment screening; allowing transportation network companies to determine the level of English-language proficiency required to operate; alternative fee and payment processes and structures; and clarifying access to and use of data collected from transportation network companies.
"City Council was fully aware of the challenges of regulating an emerging industry — and of anticipating the response of another major industry, the insurance sector — and directed staff to conduct a review of the ordinance after six months and again after one year of implementation," Taylor said. "Given the concern from the general public, TNC drivers and the TNC companies, we have expedited the initial review and are conducting it now."
Taylor also said the Texas Legislature is expected to tackle regulatory issues surrounding ride-share companies this year.
Debbee Hancock, an Uber spokeswoman, said the company hopes the rest of the council will take a comprehensive review and repeal the regulations.
"We are pleased to hear the Mayor recognizes the current ride-sharing ordinance is unworkable. In addition to the insurance provisions, we remain concerned with the duplicative driver requirements that do little more than add bureaucratic red tape for part time drivers trying to use their own resources to earn extra money on the Uber platform," Hancock said.