City set to vote on ridesharing

Vote will allow Uber and Lyft to operate legally in Austin

In this March 12, 2014 photo, passenger Katie Baranyuk, left, and Dara Jenkins, right, a driver for the ride-sharing service Lyft, perform Lyft's trademark fist-bump as they pose for a photo after Baranyuk got a ride from Jenkins to downtown Seattle to meet friends after work. In a fight pitting upstart technology and traditional business, app-based ridesharing firms are fighting with taxi companies for supremacy in the Seattle market. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin’s city council will vote this week to approve an agreement with ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, making their operation in the city legal.

The rideshare, or transportation network companies, that use apps to link people looking for a ride with drivers who accept money to drive them, began operating under a pilot program with the city. Many drivers who were accepting compensation over the federally determined $.56/mile were technically operating illegally and police were citing drivers.

According to the agreement proposed by the city manager’s office, the companies must:

  • Run yearly criminal and driver background checks on drivers and prevent anyone convicted of DWI within seven years of driving or other felonies. Plus ban drivers with more than three moving violations or driving without insurance.
  • Provide commercial automobile minimum liability insurance of $1 million beginning when the driver accepts a trip request until the rider gets out of the car.
  • The company must pay a $.10 surcharge for all rides starting in Austin. The money will go to support riders who require ADA accommodations.
  • Drivers will only accept rides booked through digital platforms and not accept street-hails.

The city has been working on this agreement as an alternative to taxi rides, citing the demand for other options during peak weekend times.

Drivers who violate the rules can be fined by the city up to $500.

The ridesharing companies must agree to the terms within 30 days.

The vote is set for Thursday. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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