Tag: ridesharing

Ridesharing Under Heavy Regulation in San Antonio

imgres-7Ridesharing is in the hotseat in San Antonio.

Last Thursday, the San Antonio City Council passed changes to its code to allow services like Lyft and Uber to operate legally in the city.

But Uber and Lyft call the city’s regulations too costly and cumbersome. Uber reported it might leave the city altogether if the regulations passed. Uber even posted an online petition which has garnered 10,877 signatures, to oppose the regulations.

“The proposed ordinance creates extensive, unnecessary requirements for part-time drivers, creates barriers to entry for drivers and significantly deviates from the standards set by every other Texas municipality that has enacted TNC regulations,” according to a letter Uber wrote to the city council.

The new regulations require “transportation network companies,” also known to most people as ride-sharing companies, to train and vet their drivers and require vehicle inspections and insurance.

Uber already complies with the insurance requirements; mandating drivers carry $1 million in automobile liability coverage. It’s the other requirements that would require Uber drivers to pay up to $300 a year to comply with the regulations, according to Uber’s letter. Those regulations would require drivers to get a full physical and eye exam before driving, take a pre-scheduled drug test, complete a defensive driving course, and “have the vehicle subject to expensive, random checks even though they would also be required to have a third-party inspection by an ASE certified mechanic.”

The city leaders think the regulations will make ridesharing safer, according to its statement. But Uber reports that cases of DWI go down in cities in which it operates.

“I am pleased to welcome Lyft, Uber, and other TNCs to San Antonio. We look forward to the convenience and economic benefits this will bring to San Antonio and its residents,” Mayor Ivy R. Taylor said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Lyft told Reuters that the San Antonio regulations were some of the most burdensome they had encountered. Lyft, founded in 2012, currently operates in 65 cities.

The San Antonio Express News’ Brian Chasnoff wrote a column about taxicab contributions to city council members suggesting money from the incumbent industry influenced the vote.

Lyft Launches in Austin Without City Approval

images-3Despite restrictions, Lyft, the ride sharing company known for its cars emblazoned with giant pink mustaches, launched Thursday in Austin.
“The Austin community’s overwhelming calls for more transportation options have been heard,” according to Lyft’s blog post. “After a petition started by ATX Safer Streets garnered nearly 4,000 organic signatures from Austin residents – many of whom left comments explaining their need for Lyft and other ridesharing services – Lyft will now be providing friendly, reliable, and affordable rides throughout the Heart of Texas beginning tonight at 7 p.m.”
Lyft provides its ride-sharing service through a free app on an iPhone or Android smartphone. Customers download the app and then they can schedule a ride by inputting the time and place. For the first two weeks, Lyft is offering free rides to customers in Austin.
Lyft is known as a peer-to-peer ride sharing program which means its drivers use their own cars to provide rides to others. The drivers do have to pass a background check, according to Lyft.
“With Lyft, passengers are connected via smartphone to background-checked community drivers – which include a food truck owner and middle school social worker in Austin – all easily recognized by the furry pink mustaches on the front of their cars,” said Katy Dally, spokeswoman for Lyft.
The company is holding a kick off party to celebrate its Austin launch Friday evening at Bungalow on Rainey Street.
While Austin’s City Council formed a task force to study the issue of ridesharing at its recent meeting, the council did not approve the practice. And the city’s transportation department has issued a statement warning Lyft that its drivers could receive citations and have their vehicles could be impounded if they are found in violation of current laws.
“Lyft is not operating illegally in Austin nor San Antonio, as taxi and chauffeur laws in those cities do not apply to Lyft,” Dally wrote in a statement. “In Austin, the city’s passing of a resolution to create a new regulatory structure for TNCs demonstrates that the current structure does not account for emerging and unique business models. We are committed to staying at the table and continuing to work with the City, as we have in jurisdictions across the country.”
Austin is Lyft’s fifth city in Texas. The two year old San Francisco-based company launched in San Antonio in late March but it met with opposition from the city’s taxi cab industry and city officials. Uber also launched in San Antonio in late March and it also met with opposition.
San Antonio’s Police Chief William McManus warned Lyft and Uber drivers against providing rides for pay or else they would be cited for violating the city’s vehicle for hire law and their vehicles might be impounded.
The City of San Antonio formed a transportation study and has held hearings on the ride sharing services. Meanwhile, Lyft and Uber continue to operate and they have begun charging people for rides.
In Austin, Lyft created a Youtube video explaining why it chose the city and also outlining the need for its service including issues such as traffic congestion and drunk driving.
Yellow Cab Austin President Ed Kargbo released a statement regarding Lyft’s launch calling it an “illegal operation” with a “complete lack of respect for the City of Austin.”
“We strongly advise everyone to ask for proof of commercial insurance before using any illegal service,” Kargbo said in a news release. “While they choose to sidestep the rules, we’ll honor a commitment to addressing our city’s challenges through legal transportation options that prioritize the safety of both riders and drivers, including innovations like the Hail A Cab app. We will also continue to respect the process set forth by the Austin City Council — one that is in place for the protection of our residents and visitors.”
Lyft’s service is not illegal, Dally said.
“Despite what Yellow Cab representatives might say, Lyft does protect all passengers and drivers with commercial insurance,” she wrote in a statement. “In fact, Lyft offers three times the insurance coverage as an Austin taxi, and also has more strict background check and DMV driving record check requirements.”

SideCar Buys HeyRide of Austin

imgres-13Well that didn’t last long.
One minute, Heyride is making all this noise in Austin and disrupting the taxi industry there.
And the next, it’s swallowed whole by SideCar, a competitor, based in Silicon Valley.
On Thursday, SideCar, a ridesharing startup, announced it acquired the assets of Heyride.
SideCar has a free app for smart phones that hooks people who need rides up with pre-screened drivers.
SideCar is making the acquisition just in time for SXSW. That’s where Josh Huck, the founder and CEO of Heyride, got the idea to create Heyride in 2012. He noticed a shortage of cabs and wished there was a better way to get from place to place than taking a traditional taxi.
While Heyride was only available in Austin, SideCar offers its services in San Francisco and Seattle and has already provided people with more than 100,000 rides. The company will expand its service to Philadelphia, Austin and Los Angeles this weekend and is actively recruiting drivers in New York, Chicago, Washington, DC and Boston.
“We’ve heard from people across the country and around the world that they want the SideCar community to take root in their cities and towns,” Sunil Paul, CEO of SideCar, said in a news release. “Heyride’s talented team has developed a unique design and experience that will help take the rideshare movement we started here in San Francisco nationwide. We are thrilled to welcome Heyride to the SideCar family.”
Heyride had five full time employees. They will join the SideCar staff. Silicon Hills News did this interview with Huck last November.
imgres-12SideCar has raised $10 million from investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Google Ventures, Spring Ventures, Huron River Ventures, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures and others.
Heyride raised $400,000 from Silverton Partners in Austin.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The ridesharing industry is beginning to take off despite some early regulatory troubles. In addition to the traditional taxi cabs, Sidecar faces competition from startups Uber and Lyft.

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