Even if you’ve never heard of the term ride share— you have definitely heard the word Uber or Lyft tossed around. Ride sharing in Houston is billed as a popular alternative to traditional transportation services such as taxis, Houston limo service providers, or other destination management companies.
Many Houstonians have begun to use these rideshare services as frequently as traditional Houston transportation services due to their perceived savings and extra convenience—but what are you really sacrificing in using these unproven services?
Different Than A Reputable Houston Transportation Provider
Unlike a traditional Houston corporate travel service, limo service or taxi company—Uber does not rely on its own fleet of vehicles to provide their service. Uber drivers are considered independent contractors using their own personal vehicle. Drivers also pay for their own maintenance, gas, insurance and other operating expenses. Uber riders and drivers are connected via a mobile phone-based app where riders request an Uber to their GPS tracked location. The nearest driver gets a “ping” and accepts or declines the request. The rider pays through the Uber app at the time of requesting the ride and never has to use cash or a credit card; they can even tip through the app. The driver is paid by Uber and never sees the rider’s credit card or personal information. While this sounds very convenient, the problem with this loose network business model is evident in the many risks it poses.
The Risk Factor Of Ride Sharing in Houston
Nevermind the irony of being taught never talk to strangers on the internet or get into strangers cars—and now using an app to do that exact thing; there is a lot more potential for disaster with this type of service.
Who Is Really Driving You?
With a normal Houston transportation service such as Excelsior, drivers are professionally trained and certified employees of the company. They receive stringent background checks, drug screening, and training before taking their first passenger. So when they pick you up, you know you are getting a trustworthy individual behind the wheel.
Uber, on the other hand, does do background checks but the checks they do have often allowed quite a few sketchy drivers slip through the cracks. A local news team recently did an investigation spanning several months into Uber background checks. The results were shocking. There were multiple drivers working for Uber that had recent criminal records. Not just minor infractions either—convictions for burglary, DUI, assault, and felony reckless driving were among the cases.
So what it boils down to— you really don’t know who you are trusting with your safety. When you consider many Uber riders are unaccompanied teens—this becomes even more disturbing.
When you order limo service or other ground transportation with Excelsior you are getting a verified professional, quality vehicles maintained exclusively, and level of service no rideshare can match. We do very thorough FBI criminal background checks on all applicants with the potential to be hired.
Drivers Lack Of Professional Driving Qualifications
As we touched on briefly when discussing driver identity, Houston transportation service providers require drivers to be held to very high standards. Since they are assuming liability for people on a daily basis while transporting them, it’s prudent to have a strict standard. For example, many Houston limo service providers in addition to an FBI criminal background check; require drivers to be in good physical health, pass driver safety courses, have excellent hygiene and a clean driving record among other requirements. Uber drivers simply have to have the bare minimum vehicle specs, a local driver’s license and full insurance. That’s it, no safety course, no physical health standards, no professional driving training whatsoever. That’s a huge risk you are taking by assuming that just because your driver was hired by a ride share company that they know how to drive safely or are physically sound to do so.
Because drivers for a ride share company are not direct employees but contract workers; Uber can distance itself from liability if something happens outside the bounds of the service. When you download the Uber app you agree to their very detailed terms and conditions by default of using the app. In those terms, it essentially holds Uber free from liability whether it’s an accident, injury, theft, or other hazards. Instead, the contracted driver’s auto insurance policy is your only hope for help. The unfortunate fact though, is that most personal auto insurance policies do not cover incidents occurring during which the covered vehicle is used for commercial purposes. Uber does claim recently to have insurance coverage while on trips, but many riders and drivers alike have recounted horror stories of getting compensated for losses or injuries.
Very Little Governmental Oversight:
Unlike Houston transportation services or Taxis; Uber has very little regulations and standards placed on them by the State of Texas and local governments. Excelsior, for example, has to spend thousands in licensing, pass strict inspections of vehicles, drivers and operation facilities. Our vehicles have to be in top quality condition as do our certifications must be up to date. Our drivers undergo constant random drug screenings, safety evaluations, monitored driving and more—all to ensure we provide the utmost safety for our clients.
Uber drivers in Houston only have to have their normal state inspection current. This inspection is far less thorough than that our vehicles must go through to pass state regulations and our own self-imposed strict standards.
Don’t Risk It With Any Ride Share in Houston Company
If you need reliable transportation for a special event or corporate travel service, don’t risk your personal safety on rideshare services like Uber. Excelsior Transportation goes to great lengths to give our clients a first-class transportation experience. Our drivers are thoroughly vetted, highly skilled and very professional. Our fleet is maintained to strict standards and we never put a vehicle on the road if it is questionable. When it comes to your Houston transportation needs, nothing is worth more than your safety and peace of mind. Contact us today to see how we can help you!