Uber and Lyft said it's official and they are coming back to Austin Memorial Day.
“Now you know I'll tell you about that when I get ready to sign it,” said a teasing Governor Greg Abbott to reporters Thursday when asked about House Bill 100. The bill would put in place statewide regulations on ride—hailing companies. But Uber and Lyft both tweeted the same day and said it's they will be back on the roads in Austin Monday.
Giovanni Van Sandt is a driver for Lyft, “I missed Lyft a lot. So I am glad they're back.” He was busy Thursday afternoon helping Lyft get new drivers signed up, and old ones back on board. He said for the last year while Lyft was gone, he tried to get other work “I took an office job for about 6 months, and I did some driving with some companies, it just wasn't quite the same,” he said.
Rewind about a year ago, Austin voters chose to give the city oversight of ride-hailing companies so Lyft and Uber stopped operations in city limits mostly over the fingerprint background checks. Many drivers were without jobs, and many passengers were without rides.
Uber officials said they know they made some mistakes and upset some Austinites and they are sorry for how they left. Trevor Theunissen is the Public Affairs Lead for Uber in Texas, “We hurt some feelings and we offended some people, we have a lot of work to do. It's certainly incumbent on us to make sure that we can prove to the Austin community that we are sincere about coming back, we are going to do it the right way.” Theunissen said they've listened to concerns and want to be a true partner to the Austin community. “We're excited to get back on the road and operate under this new statewide bill,” he said.
It's not just passengers the companies need to win back; Lyft said they are working hard to get drivers back on board. Something Van Sandt said is already happening “I feel like that sense of community is still really strong and there are still a lot of drivers that want that back and now that Lyft has returned, I feel like we are moving towards that. It's coming back, it might take a minute, but it's definitely started,” he said.
Passengers we spoke with said they were upset when the TNC power houses left Austin. But they are happy they are back, and the more options for Austinites getting around town, the better. Christina Bridgewater is one of those excited for their return, “The easier it is for people to get around this crazy city that's booming, I think that's a good thing,” she said.
But not everyone is happy hearing the news the governor will sign the bill Monday. FOX 7 has been told taxi cab drivers will be holding a protest Friday morning at the governor's mansion.