Yet, Another Austin Fiasco

Today, I’m very frustrated with Austin. I live north of the city, close enough to be effected by their decisions. Yet, far enough outside their purview that I can’t vote on misleading propaganda. Usually, I try to steer clear of airing my political views, but this relates to so much more than politics. How about price gouging and monopolies? A taxi fare quote from the Renaissance Hotel to the Austin-Bergstrom Airport, an 18.4 mile trip — $95. That’s over $5 a mile, Compared to Uber and Lyft’s cost of around $1 a mile that is a significant jump in price.

I’m sure a lot of my American readers have heard of the recent troubles between Uber, Lyft and the City of Austin. After a little over a week of the community and surrounding areas suffering over the pullout of both companies from the city limits, several out of state companies attempted to fill the void.

Full disclosure: My husband quit his job to become a driver of both companies so that he might see his family more than 3 days out of the month. He was a truck driver for over a decade with 1 million miles of safe driving and was fingerprinted 2 yrs ago for work as a security guard. As a subcontractor for Uber, he was rated as one of their top drivers and earned the option to drive for their Select Services, up until the shutdown. So basically, he more than meets the requirements to chauffeur the visitor’s and public of Austin but can’t because the City hasn’t really decided how to implement their new rules.

Fare, an Arizona based company started negotiations last week and received the green light to launch operations and work within the Austin City limits. After paying for a multitude of adds for this weeks launch, they were notified today that the City had changed their mind, wanting to add further requirements to the already settled negotiations.

  1. They are requiring ALL drivers to be fingerprinted before they can operate inside Austin.
  2. They must shut down the app they had already launched until said fingerprints come back. A process that takes 7-10 days, sometimes longer.

The City of Austin has set up what they are calling a “Fingerprinting Event” starting Tuesday, May 17th thru May 19th. They promised to fingerprint over 10,000 drivers that lost their livelihood after Proposition 1 failed at the polls. That is 10,000 businesses that came to a halt with very little recourse because they were not employees, but sub-contractors. No unemployment compensation for them.

The truth: No fingerprinting will actually take place at this event. They are asking drivers to stand in long lines all day to fill out paperwork for the city to set an appointment – for a later date – that the driver’s may have the fingerprints processed. It will take 7-10 days from that date, which can be scheduled up to weeks in the future. It almost sounds like a way to scam these poor people who only want to pay their bills and take care of their families.

Drivers aren’t the only ones to suffer from this chaos. Public transportation in Austin is limited, which leaves little options for citizens who don’t have a car or can’t get a license because of a disability.

College students used Lyft and Uber to get around safely and at a reasonable price. Most students don’t work or only work part-time, how will they afford the exuberant prices offered by the taxi companies? Then you have those who made the choice to skip the expenses of a car and insurance so that they might survive on the minimal income they bring in from a job. They used the ride-sharing apps as a cheap alternative for travel to and from work. That option is now gone and they face the very real dilemma of resigning their position because of this lack of transportation. Travelers coming to town for events, have little to no options other than car rental to make their way through the city. Then you have those who used the services after a night on the town — drunk drivers anyone? No thanks.

To sum things up, I hope this fiasco is solved soon for the drivers, travelers and the citizens who all suffer because of decisions made – on their behalf and outside of their control – by others.