Austin & Ridesharing: Finally Coming Together

Finally. Finally. 

Finally, it looks like app-based ridesharing companies are coming to the table to work with the City of Austin on new regulations allowing them to legally operate in the city.

From The Austin Chronicle:

The main issue, ATD said, will be ensuring proper representation among the working group the Transportation Department intends to assemble during a series of bi-weekly or tri-weekly three-hour meetings public information manager Sam Alexander explained “are going to be intense, and are going to be frequent.” Already they’d brainstormed 19 different participants for the conversation, with representatives hailing from taxi franchises, vehicle-for-hire organizations, public safety groups, and the insurance industry. Other suggestions rolled in: people from the visitor’s bureau; those involved in the nightlife industry; Movability Austin; a designated spot for pedicab drivers. ATD plans to whittle that list down and propose a working group soon. They’d like to organize a series of meetings. Status reports are due Aug. 23.

More suggestions came from the galley, when Alexander opened the field to ideas about which exact topics this working group should cover. Some proposed legal liabilities, auto ownership standards, and insurance plans, while others sought regulations on fleet sizes, driver ratings, and vehicle markings for TNC drivers. They all came in addition to the eight ATD had already assembled, which ranged from driver requirements like background checks and drug-use policy to ensuring that all drivers are operating via an equitable service model.

This is all I’ve asked for all along. Let’s do this through the proper channels. Yes, it’s going to be messy and hard and some people aren’t going to like the outcome. That’s how these things work. Policymaking isn’t easy.

Another important consideration this brings up, though, is how these companies may be learning that the sausage-making process ain’t pretty. But it’s something they should expect to be involved in more often in the future.

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