Prop 1

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Lots of arguments were made for and against Austin's Proposition 1 ahead of the May election that ultimately sent Uber and Lyft packing.

But maybe the most compelling argument was the ever-present appeal to public safety – that the number of DWI arrests had dropped by nearly a quarter since Uber and Lyft rode into town in 2013. While that local number has been thoroughly raked over the coals (and even revised by APD), a new study suggests that the national impact of ride-hailing on drunk driving has been relatively moot.

Austin Drivers File Suit Against Uber, Lyft

Jun 10, 2016
Shelby Knowles / Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: A pair of former drivers for Uber and Lyft filed dual class action lawsuits Thursday against the ride-hailing companies over their abrupt exit last month from the Austin market.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

Former full-time Uber and Lyft driver Kurt Wagenman showed up to Austin’s first transportation network company (TNC) driver fair on Tuesday with a misleading email in his inbox.


Shelby Knowles/Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday the fight is not finished when it comes to regulations in Austin that have driven ride-hailing companies out of the state capital. 

"The issue's not over," Abbott said in an interview on CNBC. "Republicans in the Texas Legislature have already raised proposals coming up in the next session to override the Austin vote." 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Andrew Nierengarten used to make most of his income driving for Uber and Lyft. But since the two companies exited Austin Monday, he’s been working for another ride-hailing app: Get Me. And he says since the failure of Proposition 1, passengers assume he has been fingerprinted.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Within hours of Austinites voting to keep current ride-hailing company regulations, including fingerprint-based background checks, state lawmakers began to debate whether those regulations should be left up to cities or the state.


Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft were dealt a stunning blow Saturday, as Austin voters rejected Proposition 1 by a 12-percent margin.
 

The proposition, put on the ballot by a petition circulated by the political action committee backed by Uber and Lyft, would have repealed a city ordinance requiring fingerprint background checks for ride-hailing drivers.


KUT News

Update 9 p.m. Election day totals now are nearly the same as those reported earlier, with 44% in favor and 56% against Prop 1. 

7 p.m. Early voting totals are in for Austin's Proposition 1 election: 44% voted for Prop 1, and 56% voted against. Proposition 1 deals with regulations for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft. Both companies have said they'll cease to operate in Austin if the measure does not pass. Uber set a hard-out for 8 a.m. Monday. Lyft set its out for 5 a.m. Monday.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Unbeknownst to some, the City of Austin has licensed five ride-hailing companies for operation. In case you haven’t opened your mailbox or clicked on your TV recently, two of those companies, Uber and Lyft, are currently embroiled in a public vote over what regulations the companies should be subject to.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Uber is facing a federal class action lawsuit after mass-texting its Austin users ahead of the Proposition 1 vote over ride-hailing regulations.

The lawsuit, filed by Austin activist Melissa Cubria, alleges Uber violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act when it robo-texted Austinites this week, urging them to support Proposition 1 at the ballot box. The suit argues that Uber's texts violated users' privacy and violated the law, which protects consumers against unwanted voice or text contact from political campaigns "unless in an emergency or with consent of the recipient of the call," according to the suit.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

When she’s not driving for ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, Sara Kaminsky works as a personal trainer. In fact, I exited her Toyota Corolla with a brochure for Shakeology, a weight loss program that helped Kaminsky shed more than 100 pounds over two years.

I confessed that I needed to get in shape. “I could help you with that,” said Kaminsky. But mostly she helped me with a free ride Thursday morning to my nearest polling station, at Maplewood Elementary School.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

UPDATE: In a news conference this afternoon, City of Houston officials made clear they did not plan to concede to Uber's demands to repeal the city's current regulations for permitting ride-hailing drivers.

“If the city’s process protected even one person as relates to public safety, it has been worth it, and in this city we cannot afford to compromise public safety,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Turner said he hoped Uber would not leave, but stood firm that the company must comply with the city's current regulations. He claimed to be surprised by a letter from Uber today saying it would cease doing business in Houston if the rules, specifically related to fingerprint background checks, were not altered. Turner said the company had not expressed their need to leave, absent a change, in meetings he had with company officials in the past several months.

Turner called it "ironic" that Uber would make such a demand in the midst of Austin's vote on a measure that would roll back requirements for fingerprinting driver here.

From the Texas Tribune: Uber announced Wednesday that the company plans to cease operations in Houston if the city council does not repeal its existing regulations relating to vehicle-for-hire companies.

Houston is one of two cities in the country where Uber continues to operate despite a local requirement that its drivers undergo fingerprint-based background checks. Uber has recently left three cities in Texas for approving similar regulations and has threatened to do the same in Austin.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Now that Proposition 1 has passed, the University of Texas is moving ahead with plans for its new medical school.

UT officials held a press conference this morning about a possible timeline for the complex. University President Bill Powers said with an aggressive approach, the first freshman class could start as soon as 2015. “This isn’t off in the 2020s,” Powers said. “We might take a little breather today and start tomorrow on all the processes. We’d like to break ground within a year.”

Good Halloween morning. It’s going to warm up a bit today, with highs in the low 80s, but be prepared for a cool Halloween night, with a low of 57, according to the National Weather Service.

Here are some stories KUT has been working on:

Automatic Admission to UT Getting More Difficult:

UT President Bill Powers says that for the Summer/Fall of 2014 and Spring of 2015, UT will automatically admit Texas seniors who rank in the top 7 percent of their high school class. That’s down from the top 9 percent this Fall/Spring and the top 8 percent next Fall/Spring.

UT Makes Final Push for Prop 1:

The University of Texas is responding to criticism directed at Proposition 1, which would raise property taxes to help fund a UT medical school. Critics have said that UT has enough money to fund the project. However, UT President Bill Powers says, that a great deal of the money in the university’s coffers is already earmarked for other purposes.