Uber and Lyft return to Austin shortly after Abbott signs bill

With Uber and Lyft drivers and Texas lawmakers looking on, Governor Greg Abbott proudly signed HB100 into law on Memorial Day state-wide framework for ride-hailing companies.

Last May, Austin voters decided having fingerprinted drivers was important.  Uber and Lyft couldn't live with that ordinance and left town.
But since then, transportation network companies that were cool with the city's fingerprinting rules have been thriving, companies like Ride Austin, Fare and others.
The Governor's speech Monday morning wasn't without several subtle jabs toward the Austin City Council.

"It is so disappointing that we gather today in a city that rejected and jettisoned that very freedom from the customers who wanted to have a choice about which transportation provider they could choose," Abbott said.

Abbott said in Texas we don't believe in top-down, one-size fits all regulatory environments that erect barriers for businesses to do business.

"In Austin, Texas whenever we have the opportunity at the Capitol we are going to override burdensome wrong-headed regulatory barriers that disrupt the free enterprise system upon which Texas has been based," Abbott said.

Uber driver Carlos Guerra from San Antonio saID this means job security.

"Man there's just some reassurance that we don't have to wake up 6 months later and 'oh we don't have a job' because somebody didn't like us, one politician didn't like us, a city councilman didn't like us.  It's a done deal," Guerra said.

After the signing, Uber's Trevor Theunissen said Uber would relaunch in Austin at noon.

"We're excited to hit the ground running, we know we've made a lot of mistakes here in Austin and we have a lot of  good will to build back and relationships to build back and we're excited to get moving," Theunissen said.

Lyft's Aaron Fox showed off some new technology Austin customers will get to take advantage of  for example the Lyft "Amp" that mounts on the drivers' dashboard.

"It helps passengers and drivers find each other.  So your phone will glow the same color as the amp.  Makes it really easy to pick up.  And then on the back of the amp when you get in the car, it shows your name as the passenger," Fox said.

On the other side of the issue: Robert Hill or "Bobby the Cab Driver" as he calls himself.  He's an independent contractor with Yellow Cab.

"I don't believe it's going to have a great effect on my income because so many people here in Austin are intelligent enough to not want them here.  They lost an election after all," Hill said.

Hill said the issue is public safety.  He refers to a site called whosdrivingyou.org that keeps track of incidents in ride-hailing vehicles.

"I promise you this Governor Abbott the first injury or rape that happens because of this bill, the blood is on your hands sir," Hill said.