On Saturday, voters in Austin, TX, cast ballots on Proposition One in a special election. This Proposition would have addressed some anti-ridesharing regulations passed by the city coucil in December 2015, but it failed by a vote of 48,673 to 38,539. This means the regulations will go into effect. As a result, ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft will leave Austin. Customers will have to seek other means of transportation, like taxis, instead. And drivers who worked for Uber and Lyft will have to find other employment. This is a real loss for those customers and drivers.
Some regulations make sense, but not the ones put into place by Austin's city council. Here's a link to the ordinance. John Kartch, of Americans for Tax Reform, writing in Forbes, summarized the new rules this way:
"The city council imposed a raft of ridesharing regulations in Dec. 2015, including a fingerprinting requirement for drivers, 'trade dress' for all rideshare vehicles, prohibitions on where drivers can pick up and drop off passengers, and a voluminous and invasive data reporting scheme."
It's a shame that Austin, a city usually known for innovation and cutting-edge trends in art and industry, would reject the innovative services offered by Uber and Lyft. Perhaps the wording on the ballot was confusing. Maybe anti-ridesharing forces waged a tough fear-mongering campaign. In any case, the loss of these options in Austin will result in real harm for many people. Sad, indeed.