City governments must be able to manage all aspects of their transportation portfolio. Vehicles for hire, including taxis and ridesharing, are an important part of that portfolio. Austin voters recently mandated safety from TNC providers by requiring fingerprinting of rideshare app drivers. As a result of Uber and Lyft’s refusal to provide safe driver vetting, thousands of Austin’s citizens were left without transportation. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the downside of leaving third party companies in control of a vital component of city transit. These private companies make choices by putting profits first and safety second. No city in America should have their transportation needs held hostage by a private company. Cities should invest in their own digital transportation infrastructure.
RideLeads provides cities with a packaged mobility and connected traveler platform that offers citizens access to drivers who undergo FBI background checks with fingerprinting, guaranteeing them a safe ride that meets all government regulations.
Uber and Lyft Are Officially Dead in Austin
By Stef Schrader, Jalopnik
May 9, 2016
I hope you’re not stuck somewhere in Austin where you’re unable to drive yourself today. Uber and Lyft are officially dead within Austin’s city limits as of this morning due to an ongoing temper tantrum they’re throwing over increased regulation.
Here’s what you see when you open the two apps within Austin’s city limits:
(Uber App Screenshot: “Uber not currently available in Austin. Due to regulations passed by City Council, Uber is no longer available within city limits. We hope to resume operations under modern ridesharing regulations in the near future. / Contact City Council.” | Lyft App Screenshot: “Lyft is not currently available. Due to City Council action, Lyft cannot operate in Austin. Contact your City Council member now to tell them you want Lyft back. / Let them know.”)
Our cabbie-backed city council didn’t help matters by pushing the ongoing debate over appropriate regulations for ride-hailing apps to an impasse. However, Uber and Lyft aren’t winning many friends in sticking to their plans to pull out, either—or the way their election tactics made everyone in the city miserable.
Lyft has already softened its language to “Pausing Operations in Austin, For Now” in an email sent to users, signifying that they’re willing to come back if they’re able to work out more favorable regulations in the future.
While Uber has stopped its ride-hailing services, Uber’s Favor/Postmates food-fetching competitor UberEATS will be sticking around, per the Austin American-Statesman.
Both ride-hailing apps are still operating in the suburbs around the Austin city limits, however, you cannot hail a car to even leave the city from within those limits.
Suspending operations within Austin cuts out a vital source of income for many locals who have used ride-hailing services as a means to make ends meet in a city that has become exponentially more expensive to live in over the past few years.
Furthermore, the services flourished here because there were inadequate options for getting around without your own car. There are several start-ups such as GetMe trying to compete in the same space that have not pulled service from Austin, but they’re not as developed as departing giants Uber and Lyft. In the meantime, it’s back to the buddy system if you need a ride to pick up your busted car from the shop, or making sure to have a designated driver if you’re going hard on Dirty Sixth.
If ride-hailing apps and Austin City Council can’t work together, then it’s past time to fix the issues that caused us to rely so heavily on the presence of services like Uber and Lyft in the first place. Like many growing cities, we desperately need to take a hard look at public transit and affordability for Austin’s most vulnerable citizens—and everyone else, really.”