Austin cab drivers ask city for protections

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Cab drivers in Austin want the city to protect them from the companies they work for.

The Taxi Drivers Association of Austin is asking the city council to change the laws that regulate taxis, but say they are not asking for an increase in cab rates. Instead, drivers want the city council to put a cap on how much money cab companies are making off their rides.

They also want protections to prevent cab companies from unfairly firing drivers.

Wednesday, dozens of taxi drivers showed up to rally for their rights in downtown Austin. Some cab drivers came with signs while others circled around Austin City Hall honking in their cars.

“We would like the public to know that we are not putting them down, we are there to serve them,” said a member of the association at the rally.”The computer, the system, is letting the customers down.”

Drivers say the current ordinance does not require cab companies to provide drivers with health insurance, which is another one of their concerns.

The association says while driver’s incomes fluctuate, they have to pay more than $15,000 a year in leasing fees to cab companies, and just recently they say that rate went up by $60 every month.

“The drivers work hard to pay $15,000,” said Merga Geneda, President of The Taxi Drivers Association of Austin. “It’s more than their income.”

A typical cab driver in Austin earns about $23,000 a year, according to federal data. That is about $1,000 more than the average cab driver in the U.S. Drivers earn about half of what a typical household earns in Austin.

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