"But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness."
2 Timothy 2:16
Having created barriers to entry for market participants, he actually called Austin's current ridesharing ecosystem "open and competitive."
In a buzzword and cliche filled appearance at last Saturday's Texas Tribune festival, Mayor Adler made a convoluted attempt to argue that mandates and regulation have increased competition; according to Adler, "if we continue on this path, we're going to end up in a good place."
With all due respect to the mayor, Austin's current ridesharing situation falls somewhere between "substandard" and "dysfunctional"; as Matt Mackowiak explained after the first UT Football game:
Austin’s special rules received their first real stress test when Notre Dame came to town for a nationally televised game and we can finally see that the emperor has no clothes. It was undeniably an unmitigated disaster.According to Adler, that's "open and competitive." It's also "about liberty," "innovative," "creative," and "next century" (which is odd, considering that another century won't start for 84 years). We're surprised he didn't trot out "transformative."
My wife and I tried to get a ride from the Mueller area to campus four hours before the game, and three new startup apps, RideAustin, Fasten, and Wingz, not only had no available drivers, but their apps could not handle demand and failed. And that was at 2pm. After an hour of waiting and hoping, we texted a friend, a former Uber/Lyft driver, who came and picked us up and drove us in for $20.
By the time the game began, more than 102,000 people filed in to Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium. By game’s end, many thousands of attendees were stranded when the final whistle blew. I’m sure we have all heard the same thing. It was total chaos when the game ended at 10:30pm when thousands of people tried to find a ride home.
In reality, the ridesharing companies currently operating in Austin are all more expensive and less reliable than Uber and Lyft...which is exactly what people said would happen if council's restrictions went into effect.
Snark notwithstanding, scaling to meet the needs of a large city was always going to be a gigantic logistical challenge. It isn't easy to coordinate thousands of drivers with tens of thousands of riders in a cost-effective and timely manner. Returning to Mackowiak:
I really appreciate Andy Tryba, of RideAustin, for his honesty and transparency about their challenges relating to scale. This weekend they did over 17,000 rides, a new record, but they were simultaneously unable to service over 2,500 rides because demand was outpacing the drivers on the road. It would be valuable to know when those rides were being requested, because midnight is a lot different than 2pm. Think about 2,500 people walking around looking for a safe ride!We've never met Tyrba, but other industry sources have privately used the word "nightmare" about attempting to comply with the City of Austin's regulations.
Here’s what really struck me. Andy said that “the more friction you put on driver signup (whether that be government instituted or company driven), the longer it takes drivers to (get) on board and many drop out of the funnel.”
I think this is where the rubber meets the road. RideAustin, with all of their deep relationships at city hall and their pursuit of ‘saving rideshare in Austin’, is waving the warning flag. Getting drivers signed up and driving is a big concern.
In another act of chutzpah, Adler attempted to create a narrative for the next predictable disaster this coming weekend when he said "it wouldn't surprise me at all if we have kinks" during ACL.
He actually called stranded Austinites and tourists "kinks."
Bottom Line: Google defines newspeak as "ambiguous euphemistic language used chiefly in political propaganda."