uber

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The political action committee that put Proposition 1 on the ballot and is campaigning for it received about $6 million from ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft in the past month.

According to documents filed Friday with the Austin City Clerk’s office, Ridesharing Works for Austin raised that sum between March 29 and April 28. The campaign has spent the bulk of that money over the past month, in staff salaries, television advertising, direct mail and consulting work.

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.

KUT

Early voting has begun in Austin on the ballot question known as Proposition 1, which deals with regulations for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft. Only people who live inside the Austin city limits and are already registered to vote will be able to cast a ballot on this issue.

Early voting goes until May 3. Election Day is May 7.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

In both sides of the tug of war over what rules should govern ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft in Austin, everyone seems to agree that having more transportation options is a potential antidote for DWIs.


On Thursday night, KUT and the Austin Monitor hosted a live debate at the North Door on the May 7 ballot question about regulations for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Austin City Council members may have been overly optimistic that a 9-year-old’s karaoke machine could carry their comments to reporters. Nonetheless, they pushed on.

Armed both with a “singing machine” borrowed from Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo’s daughter and with printed versions of the two currently competing ride-hailing ordinances, five council members gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Austin voters will head to the polls on Saturday, May 7 to vote for or against Proposition 1. How did we get here? In December, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance that, over time, requires Uber and Lyft drivers to undergo fingerprint-based background checks, among other things. The companies have said they cannot operate under these mandates.

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

For once, rules batted around on the dais did not concern Uber and Lyft drivers.

Austin City Council members Thursday approved nationwide criminal background checks for would-be chauffeur permit holders – those authorized to drive taxicabs, pedicabs, limos or city charter buses. It’s another step in what has been a lengthy attempt to align the regulations that govern cab drivers and ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have spent nearly $2.2 million so far this year to fund a campaign to collect petition signatures to get an initiative on the ballot in Austin and advocate for that measure.

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr/KUT

Join KUT and the Austin Monitor on Thursday, April 14th at 6:30pm at the North Door (502 Brushy St.) for a live debate on the ride-hailing regulations that will be on the ballot in Austin next month.

RSVP here.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Austin's ridesharing vote will go ahead as planned, it seems.

The Texas Supreme Court denied a request to order a rewrite of ballot language that Austin voters will consider in May regarding regulations for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

Austin resident Samantha Phelps filed a writ with the Supreme Court last week, arguing the language approved by the Austin City Council would mislead voters.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

From the Texas Tribune: The Texas Supreme Court has been pulled into the ongoing battle between Uber and the City of Austin.

An Austin resident, supported by Uber*, has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the ballot language for a new measure regulating vehicle-for-hire companies within the city, scheduled to come before voters on May 7.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

The Austin City Clerk’s office has confirmed they have received a petition to recall the election of Council member Ann Kitchen. The petition was submitted by a local political action committee calling itself Austin4All

The City Clerk must now certify these signatures within 20 days. Once the signatures are certified, the Council member has five days to resign. If she does not, the recall will go to voters, most likely in November.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

Everything’s in place for a May 7 vote on rules governing ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft. But which set of rules will drivers be living under until then? It gets a little complicated.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. /KUT News

Austin voters will decide on a petition-driven ordinance drawn up by ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft. 

The Austin City Council rejected the ordinance on an 8-2 vote (Council Member Don Zimmerman abstained), which means the ordinance will go to a public referendum on May 7.

The election will cost the city an estimated $500,000 to $800,000.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

Given that it’s in a government building, the painting that hangs outside Mayor Steve Adler’s office is a bizarre choice. It’s a portrait of a cat – its head crowned in what looks like a steel headdress, with an ornate keyhole at its center. Behind the cat’s head, canoes full of sushi float atop a body of water. Chopsticks stand in for paddles. If nothing else is clear – and little is – the cat wields enormous power over these pieces of sushi. The canoes carrying them appear to be rowing toward it in an act of obedience.


Mike Blizzard via Twitter

When you Google image search Rachel Kania and Tori Moreland, you'll find each of them in similarly staged photos, each wearing a collared shirt and pearls, each standing in front of what looks to be a tall wooden fence – as if they're keeping someone out, but in a friendly way, like a genial neighbor would.

Lyft via youtube

From the Austin Monitor: Mayor Steve Adler on Sunday revealed that he has been working with a representative of Lyft, one of the transportation network companies that has been backing an initiative on the May 7 ballot to prevent the city from enforcing mandatory fingerprinting for TNC drivers. Adler said he has been discussing with attorney Michael Whellan, who represents Lyft, the idea of entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the TNCs.

Photo Illustration: Todd Wiseman/TexasTribune

It appears more likely voters will decide the future of regulations for ride-hailing companies in Austin.

Next week the Austin City Council will decide whether to adopt rules written by Uber and Lyft, or put them to a public vote. A petition by Ridesharing Works for Austin calling for those rules was certified Tuesday by the city clerk. The rules do not include fingerprint background checks for drivers – as some council members would like to see.

Mike Blizzard via Twitter

The Austin Monitor reports: While the city clerk still has not received a promised petition seeking the recall of Council Member Ann Kitchen, the Texas Ethics Commission has received four complaints filed against the group behind the alleged effort.

Austin attorney Fred Lewis filed the four complaints on Friday morning. They name Austin4All PAC, Rachel Kania, Tori Moreland, and Joe Basel as respective respondents.

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