Uber and Lyft pack their bags: Now what?

Earlier this year, the people of Austin spoke:  65,000 petition signatures in favor of keeping the city's ridesharing rules just like they are so Uber and Lyft wouldn't pack their bags and leave.

But last weekend, the people of Austin spoke up again...this time at the ballot box. And what they said was "no" to Prop 1.

"I think more people signed that petition than turned out to vote for it," said District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman.

More than 88,000 people voted in the special election. Early Monday morning Uber and Lyft stopped operating in Austin.

In a statement, Uber expressed disappointment and said in part "We hope the city council will reconsider their ordinance so we can work together to make the streets of Austin a safer place for everyone."

Mayor Steve Adler has never wanted them to leave.  But he is pleased Austinites voted in favor of tougher regulations.

"What they said was I think that they wanted their elected officials to be making decisions and not individual companies.  I see that as a vote of confidence.  I think it sent us all back to the negotiating table to figure out how to make this work," Adler said.

Adler says the city is working to make sure the remaining ridesharing companies that didn't leave are successful and they're working toward creating a pool of fingerprinted drivers.

Council Member Ann Kitchen who spear-headed the safety regulations says there are benchmarks in the ordinance for getting fingerprinted -- but no penalties yet for not doing it.

"The council has not passed any penalties.  What the council has done so far is passed the "Thumbs up" ordinance which is a series, a list of all kinds of incentives," Kitchen said.

Council Member Don Zimmerman has been a vocal supporter of Prop 1.  But he says it's been a mess since the beginning.

"The ballot language was extremely confusing, that was the number one comment I got on it," Zimmerman said.

He says they went about contacting voters in the wrong way.

"They seemed to be sending indiscriminate messages to everybody they had a phone number for.  The campaign did not make any sense," Zimmerman said.  "They spent too much money and they gave the wrong message, they gave confusing messages, it was a terrible waste of money but...nobody consulted me," Zimmerman said.

But the fight continues.

Senator Charles Schwertner is hoping to take it to the state level.  He'll be introducing a ridesharing bill next session.

"We need consistent and fair regulation of ridesharing services in the state," Schwertner said.

Schwertner says Texas shouldn't accept union-driven efforts to create new barriers just for the purpose of stifling innovation and eliminating competition.

"5,000 people in my district got pink slips today.  In addition I have 3 sons that are 16, 15 and 14.  And also as a physician I'm concerned about drunk driving and I don't want to be on the road with drunk drivers," he said.

Another thing Mayor Adler mentioned this morning during our interview is that he's been talking with local entrepreneurs about possibly creating a non-profit ridesharing company here in Austin.
   
He says the city is also working with CapMetro and others to find solutions for seniors, people with disabilities and other members of the community in need.
 

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