Uber and Lyft: What’s Going On?

It’s not uncommon to hear Austinites wondering out loud what’s going on when it comes to Uber and Lyft. These transportation network companies made a big splash this spring when they announced they would operate in Austin (to which the city said “not so fast.”). Not to feed the Millennial cliché, but this transit rider has more than once been on a bus and overheard 20-somethings talking about both services in confused and excited tones.

Screen shot 2014-08-20 at 12.33.48 PMSo here’s the latest: On May 15, City Council approved a process that would include City staff and stakeholders such as taxi companies, companies like Uber and Lyft, and interested citizen groups in discussions about how to allow these pay for ridesharing services to operate while protecting passenger safety and promoting fair competition. We are now approaching the 90-day mark, at which point a progress report should be coming out. Look for recommendations for Council action in another 90 days.

Meanwhile, there have been a few developments. Both Uber and Lyft have launched new offerings they call carpooling services. Lyft’s is Lyft Line and Uber’s is UberPool. It’s not yet clear if the cost-splitting aspect of those new services will allow Uber and Lyft to comply with current regulations in Austin. Some say it is not true carpooling at all, but under federal guidelines ridesharing does allow passengers to share the actual costs of the trip.

Outside of Austin, other Texas cities are having their own discussions. Houston’s city council has decided to allow Uber and Lyft to operate, as long as they adhere to added stipulations and amendments. Dallas and San Antonio are also considering policies that would allow transportation network companies to operate legally.

Stay tuned – we will continue following the progress of the discussions, and announce any new changes that come along.

image via bizjournals.com

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