In October 2014, Austin City Council passed a pilot ordinance governing TNCs. In December 2015, the current City Council passed a new ordinance aiming to have all drivers fingerprinted by the end of 2017. Representatives from Uber and Lyft indicate they will cease operations in Austin if City Council makes fingerprint background checks mandatory. According to Uber and Lyft, such background checks make the registration process overly burdensome for drivers, inhibiting their ability to serve the market. More than 65,000 Austinites signed a petition requiring City Council to adopt, or call for an election on, an ordinance consistent with the October 2014 ordinance. Mayor Steve Adler negotiated with Uber and Lyft to craft an agreement that would keep the existing policy, require the companies to help fund a program for voluntary checks, and avoid a general election. City Council rejected that negotiated agreement, opting instead for a general election May 7 with the following ballot language:
Shall the City Code be amended to repeal City Ordinance No. 20151217-075 relating to Transportation Network Companies, and replace with an ordinance that would repeal and prohibit required fingerprinting, repeal the requirement to identify the vehicle with a distinctive emblem, repeal the prohibition against loading and unloading passengers in a travel lane, and require other regulations for Transportation Network Companies?
RECA believes the newer ordinance City Council passed in December overly burdens TNCs and threatens their ability to offer reliable and efficient transportation options to Austinites. Furthermore, the city government should not unnecessarily legislate how private companies, working within a sharing economic model, operate their businesses.
RECA believes you should support regulations that allow TNCs to operate in Austin because they: