Hi Josh, hope you are doing well! :) Thanks for the response.
Courtney Powell
181

I am doing well — thank you for asking!

With regard to the regulation, we should use the acronym TNC (transportation network company) instead of Uber & Lyft because we are talking about a class of companies that comprise of more than just those two companies. TNC is used through out the legislation and I think it would be helpful to get people used to seeing it.

I don’t doubt that many folks were impacted severely by the loss of service from U/L. I’m not trying to minimize that loss. All I’m saying is that it is the responsibility of our government to protect its citizens with regulation. Sometimes it means more rules, sometimes it means less. I hate that so many folks are out of work, but you have to consider the other side of the issue too. You have sexual attacks happening to women who use TNC’s. (They go under-reported.) You also have drivers who are under the influence while they are working. (I’ve experienced drivers that seemed high.) You also have the risk of TNC’s doing what is best for their bottom line instead of what is best for the consumer. How do we protect consumers from a TNC monopoly who is price gouging consumers and ripping off drivers? Lastly there are privacy issues. Did you know that a top executive at Uber is accused of using Uber’s internal tools to track a woman without her permission?

With regard to TNC’s in Austin, the previous city counsel passed temporary legislation that allowed TNC’s to mostly regulate themselves. The counsel wanted the next city counsel to take a look at the issue so they deferred it. The U/L that you were using was operating under temporary regulations that allowed them to do business in Austin and without the full consideration of what is needed to protect consumers.

The new city counsel did an impact study, met with all of the major transportation folks, cab companies, airport shuttles, ABIA, and representatives from Uber and Lyft. Out of those meetings came the legislation we now have in place. Those regulations cover more than just fingerprinting and background checks. It also covers public data requirements, surge pricing restrictions, payments to the city, car markings, allowed pickup areas, etc..

Uber and Lyft had problems with the legislation and wanted to revert back to self regulating. So they lobbied for prop 1 to make those changes.

I love that you are participating in the conversation but if you want to see Uber and Lyft come back to Austin then you are preaching to the wrong crowd. The folks who voted down prop 1 are likely not technology people. They are people who live in the suburbs and they’ve never used a TNC. They certainly don’t read Medium.

My guess is that there generally isn’t enough data to know how to properly regulate TNC’s so the city went a little bit overboard on the rules. Better to be safe than sorry. Over the next year I think we will see the rules ease up and Uber and Lyft will be back. My bet is one or both will be back by ACL festival.

Honestly, I think if we had the vote again on Prop 1, it would pass. Uber and Lyft were able to get 65K signatures on the petition for prop 1 but only 38K people voted for it. I suspect a lot of students (young people) supported it but didn’t vote for it.

As a side note KUT is doing a good job covering the issue:

Also you should take a look at this CATO study:

The results are positive for ride sharing safety.

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