taxis

Transportation
6:34 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Uber's Rapid Growth Pits Innovation Against Existing Laws

Taxi drivers gather in Berlin before joining an anti-Uber protest through the city. It coincided with similar protests in cities across Europe.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 10:53 am

To see the speed of technological innovation, look no further than a street corner. Hailing a cab from the street is less common in cities with Uber, a service that lets you request a ride with the simple tap of a mobile phone app.

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Transportation
8:59 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Why Austin Taxi Drivers Can't Refuse a Ride Based on Destination

Ever been refused a ride by an Austin cab? If it was due to trip length, they broke the law.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Have you ever been denied a cab ride in Austin?

After last week's deadly crash on Red River Street, there's been calls for more and better public transportation and taxi service.

But during special events like South by Southwest, it seems like more and more Austin taxis refuse to take riders for a variety of reasons. Carlton Thomas with the City of Austin’s Parking Enterprise says the most common reason is that "drivers are not interested in taking the short trips."  

He should know, because all complaints about cab drivers come to his department.

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Transportation
6:03 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

SideCar Disables Ride-Sharing App in Austin for Now

For a while at least, if you want to get a ride with a stranger you'll have to call a cab.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The city of Austin has a long-running dispute with the various ride-sharing groups -- people who say they are in their cars anyway, so through mobile apps they offer to “share” their ride in exchange for some money. The city has said that’s an illegal taxi, but today it made a truce with Sidecar.

San Francisco-based Sidecar says it’ll disable its mobile app until the Austin City Council meets again in August. Conversations and negotiations will take place in the meantime, because ride-sharing services found loopholes that they say allow them to operate legally in the city.

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Austin
5:47 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

City Reconsiders Ban on Ride-Sharing Apps

Ride sharing is catching on in other cities; Austin has said it's too much like a taxi service.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Tomorrow the Austin City Council could settle a controversy over ride-sharing apps.

These apps let residents offer rides to others for small fee or donation. Some people who say the apps would make their lives easier.

Riding the bus to buy groceries becomes much more complicated for people like Jackson Sheehan.

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Transportation
2:15 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Austin Cab Drivers Group Partnering with AFL-CIO

While cab drivers can't collectively bargain, an Austin group is partnering with a union to address working conditions.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Austin’s taxi drivers association is affiliating with the largest federation of unions in the United States, the AFL-CIO.

At a press conference today, the Taxi Drivers Association of Austin announced a partnership with the AFL-CIO’s National Taxi Workers Alliance.

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Transportation
3:32 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Austin Could Start Impounding 'Gypsy Cabs' - Including HeyRide Drivers' Cars

Looking to offer rides over South by Southwest? If drivers aren't licensed with the city, they could have their cars impounded.
flickr.com/atmtx

Police may begin impounding the vehicles of unlicensed drivers who offer rides for money – and that includes drivers using online apps like SideCar.

Item 30 on this week’s Austin City Council agenda would allow police to impound “a ground transportation service vehicle operated in violation” of the city code governing transportation franchise agreements, like the ones in place with Austin taxi companies.

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Austin
3:01 pm
Mon December 31, 2012

Free Ways to Get Home Safely This New Year's

If you drink tonight, please don't drive.
Caleb Miller for KUT News

Even though it’s Monday, it’s still a “No Refusal” weekend for Austin drivers.

From 9 p.m. through 5 a.m., the Austin Police Department will ask suspected drunk drivers to take a mandatory breath test. And if drivers don't agree, police will ask for a subpoena for DWI suspects' blood.  The Austin Police Department says 23 people were arrested for DWI on Sunday.

In an effort to keep Austin’s roads safe, Capital Metro and APD have partnered to provide free Cap Metro services from 6 p.m. until 3 a.m. Buses will run on a regular schedule tonight, but will be reduced to Sunday level service on New Year’s Day. For more information, visit capmetro.org.

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Transportation
7:30 am
Fri November 2, 2012

The Good and The Bad of More Cabs in Austin (Updated)

Cab drivers say more cabs on the street means less income and working longer hours.
Tyler Pratt for KUT News

Update (Nov. 2, 7:30 a.m.): Austin City Council members voted 5 to 2 Thursday to grant a total of 30 new taxi permits to two of the city’s cab companies.

Members of the Taxis Drivers Association of Austin had argued that there are too many cabs on the road and that they’ve seen a decline in income.

But the two cab companies say the new permits are necessary to help level the playing field between them and their larger competitor.

"[We are in favor of the vote] In order to improve our company's service to not only our passengers, but to our drivers. We've been waiting since December of last year to find out if were receiving 10 additional permits," Bertha Means of Austin Cab said.

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Austin
8:49 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Austin Taxi Drivers Say There Are Too Many Cabs on the Road

Cab drivers say that even business at the airport has declined with more drivers on the road.
Ihwa Cheng for KUT News

Austin taxi drivers are working more but seeing a decline in income and business. And, as you might imagine, many aren’t happy about that. The Taxi Drivers Association of Austin (TDAA) is even more upset that the trend may be exacerbated if the Austin City Council approves 30 new cab permits on Thursday.

The TDAA says the noticeable decline in business happened after a first round of new cab permits approved by the Austin City Council hit the streets in July. Because, while more taxis on the streets means more options for riders, it means more competition for drivers.

A new report released by the City of Austin’s Transportation Department finds the average cab driver made about one fewer trip in July 2012 than in July 2011. Cab drivers made an average of $461 less this July than last—equivalent to a drop of $2.40 an hour. That’s despite an increase in cab fares but doesn’t take tips into account.

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Transportation
11:21 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Are Extra Permits the Answer to Improving Taxi Service?

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The City of Austin received a survey in September 2011 on the city's taxi issues.  Nearly a year later, the headaches continue. 

At last week’s Austin City Council meeting, members again debated how to get the right amount of taxis to the right places at the right time, while ensuring an even playing field for the city's three taxi companies and their drivers.    

In the end, council approved – on first reading only – the issuance of more permits to the city's two smaller companies: Lone Star Cab and Austin Cab. This week, Lone Star Cab’s franchise renewal returns to council, and Yellow Cab – which dominates the market with 400-plus permits – is also up for renewal, and additional permits.

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City Council
4:57 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

City Council Update: Tune in Next Time

Council punted on two items of interest today.
Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Several high-profile items were put on hold at today's Austin City Council meeting.

One of the items delayed was a resolution requiring additional permitting for outdoor amphitheaters, pushed to council’s next meeting. A decision on the sale of the former Green Water Treatment Plant site was also pushed forward, all the way to April 26. Council members seek to spend the postponement time improving the affordable housing options at the development.

But one ongoing saga drew to a close – almost. Council approved a total of 45 additional permits for Lone Star Cab and Austin Cab, a process that required three separate readings. That said, the ordinance won’t take effect in two months.

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Austin
9:56 am
Thu March 22, 2012

City Council Preview: Changing Banks, Patio Pilot Program, Taxi Talk, and the Apple of Council’s Eye

Taxis, patios, Apples and more: City Council has a heady agenda today.
Callie Hernandez, KUT News

Spring break is definitely over.

The Austin City Council convenes to an 89 item-long meeting this morning. Some heavy lifting was accomplished earlier this week, with a general work session and a specific one delving into Austin Energy rate changes, but there’s still plenty happening today:

How Ya Like Them Apples?: A proposed incentives deal with tech-giant Apple is the meeting’s main event. The city would rebate the company 10 years’ worth of real and personal property taxes, estimated at $8.6 million, in exchange for meeting investment and job-creation benchmarks. The state is throwing in even more – $21 million.

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Transportation
12:18 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Time to Change How Austin Allocates Taxi Permits?

The cab queue at Austin Bergstrom International Airport.
Photo by I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News

How should the city decide how many taxi permits to issue?

Believe it or not, Austin actually has a formula. And it’s not terribly arcane either, like the number of UT home games multiplied by number of South by Southwest venues divided by new Eastside dive bars.

Instead, there’s a longstanding equation, last revisited nearly a decade ago, that the city uses to assess how many cabs it should have on the streets. But that equation may change beginning this week.

As laid out in the city charter, the Ground Transportation Department sets the number of permits by multiplying the previous year’s number “by the average of the percent of annual change in: (1) the population of the City; and (2) the number of taxicab departures from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.”

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Austin
1:43 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Midday Council Update: Trail of Lights Switched On, Austin Energy Pushed to Evening

The Trail of Lights is due to return this December.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/maddcovv

Nearly four hours into today’s Austin City Council meeting, and it’s still barely getting started.

While action hasn't yet occurred on several high-profile items, the council approved Item 15, which should bring back the Trail of Lights this holiday season under the sponsorship of the RunTex Foundation. As we’ve written, the foundation plans to raise at least $500,000 three months prior to the event, which would then be appropriated to city departments. The total cost of the event is tabulated at $716,078, including city fee waivers.

RunTex founder Paul Carrozza tells KUT News the foundation’s goal is to “keep it free to the public, keep it free to the taxpayer, and bring it back to the grandeur of 2007, 2008 when it was at its peak.” Asked how the RunTex Foundation saw itself successfully sponsoring the event following an abandoned attempt by another company last year, Carrozza predicted “building collaborations with sponsors – the business community and corporate community of Austin, along with volunteerism and nonprofits. I feel like I can reach out with the support of the city and the mayor, and talk to the right people in the corporations – give them a value that would be worth investing in.”

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Transportation
1:59 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Will 45 New Taxi Permits Make a Difference To Passengers? Or Drivers?

Even with additional permits, Austin Cab and Lone Star Cab permits are greatly outnumbered by Yellow Cab.
Graphic by KUT News

More taxicabs may be hitting Austin's streets, but not anytime soon.

Last night, the City Council approved additional permits for cab companies: 30 for Lone Star Cab (which would bring its total to 88), and 15 for Austin Cab (bringing it to 177).

However, the approvals were on first reading only; council must approve the change on three readings, which may occur concurrently. And even then, it takes 60 days for the permits to take effect.

As shown above, should Lone Star and Austin Cab receive the additional permits, their numbers will still be  eclipsed by Yellow Cab, which controls 455 permits: so many, in fact, it's technically prohibited by city  ordinance, which states a company may not possess more than 60 percent of the city's permits. 

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Austin
9:31 am
Thu February 9, 2012

City Council Preview: Electric Rates, Weekend Rail, Plus Bags and the Taxi Vomit Fee Returns

Another busy day at City Hall: Capital Metro, Austin Energy, the bag ban and more.
Photo by KUT News

The Austin City Council convenes again today, considering a heady, 61-item agenda. If this weekly preview is beginning to sound like a broken record, that’s because council keeps slogging through several controversial topics: Austin Energy’s embattled rate increases, contentious cab issues and the disposable bag ban. Luckily, debate over extending Capital Metro’s rail service will keep things fresh.

Electric Rate Redux: A public hearing on Austin Energy’s recently tweaked proposals raising electricity rates is scheduled for 6 p.m. The changes haven’t received much acceptance from opponents of the original proposal. Joining the ranks of council members floating changes to the rate proposals are Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo, who prior to the meeting’s 10 a.m. start will “announce a proposed alternative to Austin Energy’s recommended rate increase.”

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Austin
11:50 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Council Update: Rate Update Happening This Afternoon

The City Council waived fees associated with a parade in celebration of the Tejano Monument, which will be unveiled at the Texas Capitol this spring.
Photo courtesy tejanomonument.com

The news this morning out of Austin City Council is no news: A presentation from Austin Energy on its revised rate proposals won’t happen until approximately 3 p.m. The council breezed through its agenda this morning, but Mayor Lee Leffingwell said it was unlikely the presentation would be completed in time for council’s noon break.

In other news:

  • A $1 surcharge per taxi passenger passed unanimously. The charge would only appear during “peak hours” of 9 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. The charge was decreased from an earlier amount of $2.50, which would have stayed the same regardless of the number of passengers; action on a semi-related measure revisiting the number of passengers per cab was postponed.
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Austin
5:19 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Austin Passes Revised Pregnancy Center Law

At today’s City Council meeting, an ordinance requiring disclaimers at pregnancy centers was repealed. Pregnancy centers are religiously-motivated establishments that test for pregnancy but don’t provide abortions or refer to abortion providers.

But moments later, council approved a revised version of the ordinance, one they felt was on firmer legal ground.

Both measures passed on a unanimous, 6-0 vote (with Mayor Lee Leffingwell out of town for today’s meeting).

As we previously reported, the ordinance the council passed in 2010 required disclaimers at pregnancy centers stating they did not provide abortions, birth control, or medical devices.

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Austin
9:09 am
Thu January 26, 2012

City Council Preview: Austin Energy, Pregnancy Centers, PromiseLand

The Austin City Council convenes today, taking up an agenda with 73 items on it. But one familiar face will be absent from the dais: Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who's busy leading a consortium of tech companies across the pond to London, England’s Tech City start-up incubator.

Still, that hasn’t stopped the council from taking up some tough issues in the mayor’s absence. We’ve got a quick preview of some of the topics council will tackle today:

  • Amending Pregnancy Center Language: As we reported earlier this week, dueling resolutions are on tap regarding pregnancy centers. Critics charge the centers imitate family planning clinics, but don’t offer the same medical resources, including abortions. Citing legal challenges to a council resolution requiring disclaimers at the clinics, the Law Department has proposed repealing the resolution; in turn, the original resolution’s sponsor, Bill Spelman, has a new proposal that would amend the original language.

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Transportation
5:31 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

New Cab Fees Coming to Council

A taxi driver stretches his legs in Downtown Austin.
flickr.com/bionicteaching

Here’s another reason not to over-imbibe: If you get sick in a taxi on the way back from Sixth Street, you could get hit with a $100 dollar fine.

That measure is one of two proposals coming to the Austin City Council tomorrow. Item 42 creates the clean-up fee. If passed, it directs City Manager Marc Ott to draft “recommendations for implementation and enforcement strategies for a $100 taxicab clean-up fee” – i.e., how and when the fee will be collected. It will also implement the new rule quickly, by Feb. 9.

There’s a second cab-related measure up too: Item 43, which would implement a “peak hour surcharge” on fares. Between the hours of 9p.m. and 4:30p.m., fares would be charged a flat $2.50 surcharge.

The new fees are an outgrowth of complaints council regularly hears every time a taxi-related measure comes up: that it's difficulty to make a living as a cab driver.

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