April 25, 2016
Early voting kicked off today for Proposition 1, which, if passed, would effectively reinstate the 2014 pilot ordinance that successfully allowed Transportation Networking Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft to provide ridesharing services in Austin. The RECA Board of Directors recently voted in support of the ballot initiative and we urge our members to vote ‘FOR’ on the ballot between now and the general election on May 7.
Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and faces tremendous challenges in mobility. Our beloved city is consistently on top of lists ranking traffic-burdened cities. TNCs such as Uber and Lyft have operated safely and successfully since the first ordinance was passed in 2014 – and it is unfortunate that the process has been handled the way it has leading up to this costly election. RECA believes that it is not our city government’s job to unnecessarily legislate how private companies, operating under the ridesharing model, are operated.
There are many reasons you should vote “FOR” Proposition 1. First, it will allow TNCs to continue to provide Austinites with better access to more mobility options. TNCs have benefited our residents, visitors and the city as a whole in countless ways. They provide Austinites access to more transportation options at all hours of the day, and they have helped ease parking problems in downtown and other popular destination areas.
Second, TNCS improve mobility by removing cars from our overwhelmed transportation infrastructure. Uber and Lyft both have options to share rides with customers who are leaving from and heading to similar destinations – on Uber, this feature is called Uber Pool and on Lyft, it’s called Lyft Line. Not only can you save up to 60 percent over taking a private ride, but these ridesharing models are excellent ways to meet and chat with members of your neighborhood while removing cars from the transportation grid.
Even as TNCs grow in popularity, census data shows that in the United States, vehicle occupancy on work commutes is the lowest in nearly 40 years with nearly 80 percent of commuters traveling by car alone.
MIT researchers recently estimated that if NYC Lyft riders were willing to wait an extra five minutes per trip to pick up other passengers, almost 95 percent of trips could be shared and travel time could be reduced by more than 30 percent. San Franciscans are already embracing this, with half of all Lyft rides being passengers using the Lyft Line feature.
Safety is also important, and that’s the main issue at hand in this election. The technology inherent in TNCs have enhanced passenger safety and driver accountability and transparency by providing passengers with driver information and the ability to share ride information with others. Since TNC’s arrival to the Austin market, drunk driving has also decreased significantly.
On top of all these benefits, TNCs are also providing valuable employment opportunities for qualified drivers throughout the region. According to Lyft, more than 80 percent of their drivers work 10 or less hours per week. Drivers are successfully using TNCs to supplement their income on a flexible schedule that works for them.
We encourage you to vote “FOR” Proposition 1 to keep TNCs like Uber and Lyft operating successfully in Austin. Early voting runs this week through May 3 and the general election will take place on Saturday, May 7. You can find more information on RECA’s position and where to vote here.