With the 'second coming' of Uber and Lyft on the way, what about Ride Austin?

At the Ride Austin headquarters on Thursday, a driver-appreciation event turned out to be fairly well-attended.
               
Loyal Ride Austin drivers had questions for CEO Andy Tryba about what the passage of HB-100 and the second coming of Uber and Lyft means for them.

"They're super passionate.  They make more money now than they ever have.  We've paid more than $5 million more to them over the past year than they would have made if Uber and Lyft were here.  So they're passionate to maintain that and they're looking for any opportunity to help us," Tryba said.

"I think everybody's concerned because we're talking about two giants," said Ride Austin driver Jose Gonzalez.

Gonzalez drives for Ride Austin full-time to help support his wife and 3 kids.

"I have absolutely no complaints, been paying my bills, paying my family," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez supports fingerprint background checks so he's not happy about the new statewide framework but he says he's not nervous about Uber and Lyft's return.

Tryba doesn't appear to be either.

He feels Austin will keep embracing the local player that's donated more than $200,000 to local charities.

"The fact that it is a non-profit and we pay the drivers more, I believe they love the fact that we give to local charities, I believe they like the fact that we will continue to follow the Austin rules," Tryba said.

And yes, that means they'll keep fingerprinting drivers.  Even though the state won't require it.

Shay Mcanally is visiting Austin for the summer.  But he's been here before.

"Uber was actually still here.  And it was a good thing to have around.  Because I feel like Austin is a very party culture, you know," Mcanally said.

Speaking of party culture -- advocates say ridehailing cuts down on drunk driving.  Speculation was that when Uber and Lyft left, DWI's would go up.  Austin Police sent Fox 7 DWI numbers.

From May 8, 2015 to May 8, 2016 when Uber and Lyft operated in Austin, there were 5,789 DWI arrests.

From May 9, 2016, around the time Uber and Lyft stopped operations in Austin to May 9th of this year, those numbers actually went down -- 5,607 DWI arrests.

Mcanally says he hasn't tried companies like Ride Austin and Fare but he's hoping to this week so he can decide for himself who he wants to root for.

"Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if Uber just wiped everybody out in the first year," Mcanally said.

For transportation network companies like Ride Austin, they're hopeful it won't come to that.

"There's obviously some minimum bar to be able to maintain all of the servers and the Google costs and things like that as well as the operations and that floor is about 20,000 rides," Tryba said.

That's 20,000 rides per week by the way.  Tryba says they average about 60 to 70 thousand a week now.

"If Ride Austin shuts down, there's still other companies in town not named Uber that still give you a better cut," Gonzalez said.

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