When the changing world of technology and transportation collided, a new generation of the taxi was born. Companies such as Uber, and competitor Lyft, have taken not only the country, but the world, by storm. The appeal is simple. A person can set their location via an app by simply opening it, wait for their driver to arrive, and pay without ever cracking open their wallet. It is no surprise that these companies are now turning a profit in 55 countries. This is not to say that the takeover has gone unopposed. Uber has gotten itself into trouble for allegedly unfair business practices in the legal realm and some not-so-acceptable statements in the realm of public relations. Now, Uber takes its business to the Texas state capitol to seek approval to operate throughout the state.
Uber seeks to reach a market of approximately 27 million new potential Texas customers. The legislation currently before the Texas House of Representatives is House Bill 2440, and its companion Senate bill has not yet reached a committee hearing. The bill establishes statewide standards for companies like Uber, known as transportation network companies (TNCs). Currently, there are 10 states that have established such statewide procedures. As of now, Ubers business in Texas has reached almost a dozen cities and airports. The difficulty with the lack of a uniform set of standards is that a TNC driver would not be able to pick up a customer in one city and take them to another.
Not everyone is thrilled about the convenience offered by TNC companies like Uber. Some opposition has stemmed from the lack of commercial insurance protection provided by traditional cab companies. Others have pointed out that the competition is simply unfair or that people can only pay via credit card. In Houston, however, a more problematic concern has been voiced: one involving recent sexual assault charges. The hearing on Capitol Hill came just days after a Houston Uber driver was arrested for nonconsensual sex with an Uber patron. The woman, whom the driver had picked up from a bar, could not remember where she lived. She requested that the driver allow her to rest at his apartment. The driver allowed this and then, as he told police, had sex with her. The woman has told police she was unconscious and did not consent to any sexual activity. The driver is currently being held without bond at the Harris County Jail, one of a rising number of Uber arrests.news
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