Ridesharing and cab companies sound off at transportation meeting

File Image (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
File Image (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A couple of ridesharing companies have started operating in Austin, though they are technically violating a city ordinance. The city council decided in May to look into allowing companies like “Lyft” and “Uber.”

The first stakeholder meeting in the process was Wednesday. The Austin Transportation Department hosted the meeting. Officials are trying to have a conversation with all concerned parties, and ultimately take recommendations back to city council.

The meeting was the first step in forming a work group to take a look at companies like Lyft and Uber.

Several people at the meeting also voiced their concerns or opinions. Cab companies and their drivers, for the most part, don’t want the ridesharing companies. At the least, they want them regulated the same way they are.

“I think it’s inevitable that this is going to happen,” said Chris Bailey, who represents cab and commercially paid drivers. “So the reason that I’m here is that I want to make sure that we’re all equitable and that everyone is able to participate in this.”

The conversations went back and forth on the pros and cons of these types of companies operating in Austin. The eventual work group will help city leaders decide whether to start a pilot program with the companies. The program would not be established for 180 days.

Consumers at the meeting stressed that they want more competition.

“I’ve had several experiences where I’ve been refused service because I lived too close to the location, although it’s too far to walk,” said Willie Cecil.

“I am a Lyft driver, and I do support Lyft and ridesharing in Austin,” said Linsday. She says she found a great way to earn extra income. “My passion is in social work and working with kids. I love doing that. Some people think it’s crazy, but I love it. But, it doesn’t pay that great.”

Lyft and Uber already launched in Austin. Without proper approval, city officials can, and have, impounded driver’s cars. They can also impose citations.

The next of these meetings is in a month. In August, city council will take a look at the recommendations that come out of the work group.

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