Thursday, May 5, 2016

Troxclair's Guide to Prop. 1

"Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. 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 19:24-27

From an e-mail:
Here's a quick review.  In 2014 the previous City Council adopted regulations regarding ridesharing services.  All ridesharing companies have been operating under those rules since that time.  Recently, in December of 2015, the new City Council voted 9-2 to dramatically increase regulations on ridesharing companies, despite the fact that Austin residents have been overwhelmingly supportive of the services these companies provide.

I voted against these additional regulations.  And just 3 weeks later, I witnessed the delivery of a petition with 65,103 signatures to City Hall, the result of a citywide outcry against these restrictions. Because the Council chose not to adopt the petition, the city was required to set a special election to vote on the future of ridesharing in Austin.  In case you missed it, here is a KXAN story that outlines just a few of my concerns.
AUSTIN (KXAN) – Fifty-three drivers who failed background checks to become Uber drivers have been issued chauffeur’s licenses by the City of Austin, according to an internal Uber audit.
Uber Audit
  • 163: City-permitted taxi drivers completed Uber’s background check
  • 53 of 163: Failed Uber’s background check
  • 19 of 53: Had a serious offense (including felony assault, DWI, and hit and run)
**From list of individuals who were granted a chauffeur’s permit from COA from 2012-15

Uber’s Safety Process

  • Uber drivers typically display their name, photo, license plate number and photo of their vehicle in their profile
  • Every trip is GPS tracked
  • Riders can ping those waiting for them their exact location in real time and time of arrival
  • Drivers and riders can rate each other after each trip
  • Uber coordinates with law enforcement where needed
See the whole story here.

3 Things You Should Know Before Voting

I wanted to share with you why I continue to support Prop 1, which continues a reasonable regulatory environment for ridesharing, and why I think this is such a critical issue for our city.

1. Taxpayers could be on the hook to pay if Prop 1 fails.  Ridesharing companies have previously paid for the comprehensive background checks of all drivers.  If Prop. 1 fails, the city will take over - and be responsible for paying for - the entire process.  Although the city will collect fees from ridesharing companies either way, it remains to be known how this city run program will be implemented or how much it will cost.  Regardless of whether or not you use ridesharing services, taxpayers will have to foot the bill for any additional costs.

2. Ridesharing drivers already have extensive background checks. Uber and Lyft already do an extensive, multipoint background check on all drivers, which will continue if Prop 1 passes.  Using data including an applicant's name, social security number, driver’s license number, birth date, past and current addresses, etc., ridesharing companies carefully screen each applicant before hiring. In fact the background check process used by TNCs is the exact same process used by Cap Metro to screen bus drivers here in Austin.

3. 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.  In order to play by the same rules, you either have to make TNCs apply for a taxi franchise, or you must deregulate the taxi industry.  The new Council regulations do neither of these things. They simply cherry pick the few regulations that competing business interests want, while leaving a vast list of countless other differences on the books.  We should create a fair and limited regulatory environment that allow both models to thrive and adapt to consumer demand, not over-regulate to make business as difficult as possible for everyone.
Read the whole thing here.

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