Austin launches taxi co-op option for taxi drivers

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the discussion and debate swirls at Austin City Hall about ridesharing companies, otherwise known as Transportation Network Companies, there is a new way the city is allowing taxi drivers to take control of their own business.

Currently, the the Austin Transportation Department is accepting applications for driver-owned co-op business models. The idea of driver-owned taxi franchise is to give taxi drivers more control of their work and ultimately keep more money in their pockets. The taxi co-op would give drivers an option to drive without a company allowing them to be an equal partner and, in theory, pay lower fees.

Cab driver, Tardesse Beyene, says he’s losing business to companies like Uber and Lyft and by establishing a co-op, it will help level the playing field.

“When the co-op grows up, we all grow up together,” says Beyene. “Probably we are working hard to minimize the lease, so that way we can compete with the franchises. The co-op is owned by the drivers. So we are not going to have pressure from taxi businesses or companies.”

If approved, the driver-owned franchise would be the fourth in Austin along with Yellow Cab, Austin Cab and Lone Star Cab. Applications will be accepted through March 8. As of Wednesday, no one has submitted an application. If one is submitted and approved, Austin would join Philadelphia, Denver, Alexandria and Madison as cities that have taxi co-ops.

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