City hoping laid-off Uber and Lyft drivers will call 'Driver Hotline'

Before Thursday morning's City Council meeting kicked off, Mayor Adler gave Council Member Ann Kitchen the floor to introduce the "Driver Hotline."

"I mean this is all about helping those drivers that have been left in the lurch by Uber and Lyft when they left so precipitously," Kitchen said.

Fox 7 was there Thursday morning as calls came in to United Way's navigation center.

"We can connect them to other opportunities to drive, to other employment opportunities or to other services that they might need help with right now," Kitchen said.

The dispatcher suggested the caller try remaining Transportation Network Companies like "Get Me" and "Wingz,"

"There's absolutely no city money involved in this.  This is using a very, very valuable, existing community resource in the United Way that has stepped up to the plate and said 'Hey, we can help,'" Kitchen said.

Council Member Ellen Troxclair, who was a vocal supporter of Prop 1, expressed an idea a little different than the hotline.

"I think the best way to help the 10,000 plus drivers who are out of work is to get Uber and Lyft back to our city as quickly as possible," Troxclair said.

Since 2015, Fabian Sifuentes had been driving for both Uber and Lyft full time.
He says the money was good.

"Very good, I was planning on...actually I had the plan to go back to the University of Houston to finish my degree.  I was going to continue to live here and just Megabus back twice a week," Sifuentes said.

But on Monday, like thousands of others, he was laid off.  Now he's using the money he'd saved for college to survive.

"You have Mayor Adler saying that he wants everybody to come back to the negotiating table but you have someone else behind him, Council Member Ann Kitchen, saying that she has no plans on making any changes so that's just very disingenuous, they're not going back to the negotiating table," Sifuentes said.

Sifuentes says as long as the kinks get worked out as far as United Way dealing with the call volume, the hotline might be a good idea. But he says it seems like an afterthought.

"I think they didn't think ahead.  You would think this number would have been available on Monday," Sifuentes said.

United Way said this afternoon they are working on getting the calls answered faster, they're just encouraging drivers to be patient.  At the moment the driver hotline is just 8 to 5 but if callers dial 2-1-1 after hours they'll still get the same services from the dispatcher if they ask for them.

The hotline number is 512-687-7441