Uber no longer serving Midland

Uber no longer serving Midland

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - City leaders are "confused" by a popular ride-share company's decision to discontinue services in Midland, a spokesperson for the city said Tuesday.

Uber ceased operations in Midland on Monday, citing frustration with new regulations passed by the City Council.

"Cities across the U.S. have embraced Uber's innovative model... in the past few months, but a very small handful of cities have decided to impose burdensome regulations on this new economic regime," said Leandre Johns, Uber's general manager. "We know from experience in other markets that these rules have a devastating impact on our ability to provide the experience that riders and drivers have come to love."

The company hopes Midland leaders "will reconsider their decision" so they can resume ride-share services, he added.

However, city spokesperson Sara Bustilloz said "every single one of the changes Uber asked [the Council] for were made."

"We're very confused about why they want to leave," she said Tuesday. "We feel like what we're doing right now is just a very basic level of protection for citizens."

The disagreement stems from a transportation ordinance regulating all ride-share companies, including Lyft and Uber, first passed in November following its initial reading.

Uber pushed for several changes, Bustilloz explained, all of which were adopted by the city the following month in its second reading of the ordinance.

"They wanted to pick up at the airport, they wanted a more streamlined licensing process and they wanted... to [bypass] having to make their drivers to go the police station for background checks," she said. "We agreed to everything."

However, an alternative to police verification the two groups agreed upon later became a point of conflict, according to Bustilloz.

"Instead of going to the police station... they agreed to give us a list of their drivers with their basic information... so we can have it on file if any [criminal act is reported]," she said. "[Uber] did say it was that list... that led to their decision [to cease operations in Midland]."

The company did not cite any specific rules they found "burdensome."

The full statement issued by Uber is copied below.

"Since our launch in August of 2015, we have enjoyed providing the Midland community with access to safe and reliable transportation options. We've provided an alternative to drinking and driving, made getting to and from the airport smoother and easier, and broadened access to all areas of Midland. Unfortunately, as a result of new vehicle-for-hire regulations passed by the Midland City Council, it is with much disappointment that we must announce our intent to cease all operations in Midland effective today, February 1. These new regulations make it difficult for us to provide you the level of service that you have come to know and expect.

Cities across the U.S. have embraced Uber's innovative model – including College Station, San Marcos, and Beaumont – in the past few months, but a very small handful of cities have decided to impose burdensome regulations on this new economic engine. We know from experience in other markets that these rules have a devastating impact on our ability to provide the experience that riders and drivers have come to love.

We hope the City Council will reconsider their decision so we can once again serve the Midland community.

Although we will be ending our operations in Midland, we will continue to operate in the neighboring city of Odessa. You will still be able to utilize our service in Odessa and be dropped off in Midland but requesting a ride in Midland, including at the airport, will not be possible.

Thank you for your continued support. It has been a pleasure servicing you in Midland."

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