After months of debate, Austin City Council voted yesterday 6-1 to legalize Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) in the City of Austin. While both Über and Lyft have already been operating here for several months, demand has often outpaced supply due to heavy ticketing and impound costs incurred by drivers as police cracked down on real-time rideshare practices.
But the new decision will provide relief. As Über General Manager Chris Nauklas put it, ""Now they [the drivers] know that they can go out in the streets, provide reliable rides, cut down on drunk driving and not have to worry, and that's really a nice thing, a nice peace of mind."
This is good news for downtown Austin highrise dwellers, and for the city in general. More drivers means less wait time, more reliable service and more alternatives for getting around in Austin's increasing congestion.
At issue were concerns about peak-traffic price surging, liability insurance and background checks to assure rider safety. While the amendment to cap pricing did not pass, requirements that all TNCs provide commercial automobile liability insurance coverage and obtain city review of driver background checks pushed the ordinance forward.
The ordinance goes into effect on October 25th. TNCs then have 30 days to come to agreement with the city.