Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ellen Troxclair: 5 Facts about Austin Ridesharing

"So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”
Acts 19:27

From Ellen's latest e-mail newsletter:

5 Things You Should Know

I wanted to share with you why I continue to support a reasonable regulatory environment for ridesharing and why I think this is such a critical issue for our city. Here are 5 things you should know about the debate:

1. Ridesharing has saved lives. Did you know that the Austin Police Department data shows that there has been a 26% drop in drunk driving since ridesharing began operating in Austin? This affordable solution for getting a ride home helps keep our roads safe for everyone. Additionally, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has stated that not being able to swiftly find a ride home at the end of the night puts people at a high risk of being assaulted. Having ample transportation available is critical to avoiding dangerous situations.

2. Ridesharing is safe. While mandatory fingerprinting of drivers has been presented as a public safety issue, statistics show that traditional fingerprinting alone does not actually deter crime. When you compare the number of drivers to the number of alleged assaults, you are 6 times more likely to be assaulted in a cab with a driver who has been fingerprinted than in a TNC in Austin. Ridesharing companies use modern technology to not only thoroughly check a driver's background, but also to prevent future bad behavior with safety measures like the ability to send your GPS coordinates to a friend, providing a photo and contact info for the driver, and real-time customer ratings. If customers want to choose these enhanced safety protocols instead of traditional transportation choices, the City should not stand in their way.

3. Ridesharing drivers have extensive background checks. Uber and Lyft do an extensive, multipoint background check on all drivers. Using data including an applicant's name, social security number, driver’s licence number, birth date, past and current addresses, etc., ridesharing companies carefully screen each applicant before hiring.

4. Simply put, this is unnecessary government overreach. The bottom line is that ridesharing is working for Austin. Why are we wasting time on "fixing" something that is not broken, and in fact will hurt the many Austinites who depend on these services? These regulations were arguably brought forward by competing business interests who are looking for a way to stifle other business models. Even if you don't ever use TNCs, this is the perfect example of government overregulation ruining a good thing, and we shouldn't tolerate it in this or any other industry.

5. The additional regulations do not "level the playing field." There are still countless differences in the way taxi and transportation networking companies are regulated. Just a few examples: TNCs do not have specified “taxi zones” for pickups, while taxis have their rates set by council and are limited by the number of permits they are granted. It's impossible to regulate two different industries in exactly the same way, but we should create a fair and limited regulatory environment that allow both to thrive and adapt to consumer demand, not to over-regulate to make business as difficult as possible for everyone.
Read the whole thing here.

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