Uber and Lyft back out of Austin after vote to fingerprint drivers

Yesterday the citizens of Austin, TX had the opportunity to vote on Proposition 1, which in effect was a rule requiring all Uber and Lyft drivers to submit to a fingerprint background check in order to operate and pick up riders.  Citizens of Austin voted 55.81 to 44.19 in favor of the requirements the city wanted to enact.

In an effort of full disclosure, I will say up front, that I am an Uber driver, so take that into account as you read this.

First, some background in case you are not aware of what Uber is.  Uber is a cellphone app that people who need a ride can connect with someone who is willing to use their personal car and drive them safely to where they need to go.  It has been around for several years and is very popular, especially with  the under 30 crowd, and it used worldwide.  Uber activated it’s service in Austin in June of 2014, but didn’t officially get permission from city officials until October of 2014.

I will attempt to speak to this is 4 or 5 different aspects to see if we can make some sense of this and what it means for the future of ride sharing companies; Government getting involved for the money, Drinking and Driving and the DUI rates, riders choice of what is safe,  the actual ballot confusion and voting on a Saturday, and benefits of Uber.

Government Involvement:  In my opinion, this is nothing more than government seeing a successful business model that is working and trying to figure out a way to get their greedy little fingers involved for financial benefit.  I would love to think that government would be happy with a service like Uber since it seems to be greatly reducing the number of people who are drinking and driving, but I’ll touch more on that later.  There have been come reports stating that the City of Austin would pay for the $40 fingerprint background check fee, but I have seen no official statement from any government official saying that.

Drinking, Driving and DUI Rates:  According to Austin Police Department’s own numbers Austin experienced 454 DWI collisions in 2014; that count was 24 percent less than the 597 DWI collisions in 2013.  Remember Uber started in October of 2014.  In my own experience, Uber is a great alternative if you even think you might be drinking when you go out.  The 30 and under crowd doesn’t even consider it in my opinion.  Even older adults have told me that they would rather take a Uber rather than risk driving home after even 1 drink.  How long have we been hearing about the seriousness of drunk driving?  As long as I can remember, and now that it seems we have a great solution, our government wants to put restrictions on it?  Makes no sense to me.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been thanked by passengers for offering my service to get them home safely after a night of drinking.  “You’re saving lives man, and I thank you for it”, one passenger told me recently.

Infowars.com reporter, and an Austin citizen Joe Biggs had this to say this morning on a Periscope rant.  “Well today Proposition 1 passed in Austin, TX which means that there is no more Lyft or Uber.  And the reason they passed this law, and they allowed it to happen and they brought it up, was because the DUI rates in Austin, TX was down tenfold.  No one was getting DUI’s.  And now it’s pissed off the city of Austin and the police department because they can’t make all that money off of DUI’s, and yet they run campaigns where they say they want to stop drinking and driving.  That’s all they’ve done, is they’ve created more drinking and driving.  More people will die because of this.  Because there is no longer readily available service like Lyft or Uber.  You can’t even find a cab anywhere.”  He goes on, “So now people are gonna resort to drinking and driving and going out and doing all this bullshit, and you’re going to have more crashes, more deaths and more wrecks and all this crap because our government is so goddamn corrupt.  They wanna make more money of your DUI impoundments.  stupid!”

I couldn’t agree more Joe.

Riders don’t just Uber when they are drinking, but it’s a big part of it. I have people everyday who use Uber for everywhere they have to go.  For some people, it’s actually cheaper for them compared to a car payment, car insurance, gas, and maintenance on a car.  It’s also a preferred choice for people either going to the airport or being picked up at the airport.  A typical ride from the airport to downtown Atlanta here will charge a person about $15, as compared to a minimum $40 ride for a taxi.

Riders Choice:  Ultimately it’s up to the rider to decide whether or not they feel Uber is safe enough to use.  It’s their choice.  No one is forcing them to download the App and utilize it.  At this point, the popularity of Uber is increasing daily.  I have been driving for Uber since late December, and in my time, I have definitely seen an increase in usage.  I have much less down time than I used to and stay busy all day long as often as I continue to drive.  Uber is just another option for people to use who don’t want, or don’t have the chance to use other mass transit options.  It could easily be said that Uber is much safer than taking MARTA (the Atlanta bus and train service).  Once a passenger requests a car, they are shown a picture of the driver, what kind of car they are driving, the vehicle license plate number,  and the driver rating (0-5 with 5 being the top rating)  At the end of the ride, they are also given the opportunity to rate their driver 1-5.  If they had any issues with the driver they can also make comments on them.  This is Uber’s attempt to weed out the bad drivers.  The point at which drivers get shut down vary by city, but it’s usually around the 4.7 mark.  Uber already does a background check on their drivers before they are allowed to drive which includes driving  history, criminal background check, verify insurance information and a terrorist watch list check.  To me, this is enough.  There has been stories that have hit mainstream news about Uber incidences which seems like a targeted attack to shed a negative overall feeling of Uber.  Uber picks up and drops off millions of passengers everyday without incident, but one thing happens and it’s all over the news.  Why is this?  Have they too been paid off by government, by the taxi lobby?  It’s well-known information that almost all of mainstream media in the U.S. is owned by 6 companies, all with the same agendas.

I have a friend that is a Uber driver in Austin (who is NOT happy) who went out and drove today, and this is what some of the passengers had to say:

“I never thought the result would be against prop 1 with 65,000 people who signed a petition that took this whole thing to a vote anyway.”

“Well DWI lawyers are going to be flocking to Austin and the city is about to make a ton on them!”

The Actual Ballot:

Uberscreen_shot_2016-04-24_at_9.58.00_pm

Do you understand what you are voting on with this language?  There was a ton of media and propaganda from both sides in an attempt to inform the citizens of how to vote.  Essentially, a yes vote was for Uber, and no vote was for the City of Austin.  Thee city of Austin came up with new rules in November of 2015, and with 65,000 signatures from citizens, Uber was able to get this to be determined by a vote of the citizens of Austin.  About 17% of Austin’s eligible voters cast their ballot.  My question here is, it’s not just one city that Uber services in each area.  The “Atlanta” area covers many cities around the metro area and not just Atlanta.  For example, I live about 40 miles from the city of Atlanta, but I can log in right where I live and get a ride within a few minutes.  I don’t have to drive in the city limits of Atlanta, but I choose to because it’s busier there, and I can potentially make more money there.  So with that being said, why was the vote just limited to citizens of Austin?  Why not the entire area that Uber covers around Austin?  Is it because just the City of Austin wants that additional income?

My next question is, why was the vote held on a Saturday?  Most voting usually occurs on Tuesdays, yes we have primary elections on Saturday’s, but that’s entire states voting.  With that in mind, early voting was an option here, so I am in no way saying a Saturday vote was entirely to blame here.  It just seems odd to me.  In a vibrant city like Austin, with many options of things to do, who wants to take their time out of a Saturday to go vote?  Especially in spring time when people are excited to get back outside for activities.

My question is, what happened to the 65,000 people who signed the petition to even bring this up for a vote?  Only 39,093 people voted yes, and opposed to 88,241 who voted against it.

Benefits of Uber: This is what I hear from my passengers as the reasons they use Uber:

  1. Convenient.
  2. Cheaper than taking a taxi.
  3. Cleaner car than a taxi.
  4. Nicer drivers compared to a taxi drivers.
  5. Cleaner drivers compared to taxi drivers.
  6. I can get a car faster than waiting for a taxi.
  7. I know exactly where my car is while I’m waiting and I know when they will pick me up.
  8. Cheaper than owning a car.

 

I don’t think this is the end of the war between Uber and the city of Austin.  It’s just the beginning.  Uber is taking a stand as the future of its service depends on it. Eventually the citizens of Austin will come to miss the service. Miss the ability to get a cheap, clean car ride home after a night of drinking.  We will see an increase of DWI arrests, accidents and deaths.

 

 

 

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One Response to Uber and Lyft back out of Austin after vote to fingerprint drivers

  1. madcat says:

    Government involvement: The ‘powers that be’ ,view UBER as an employer. Which by all standards I would not disagree. So I understand their overwhelming desire to interfere in the UBER model. UBER IS a transportation service. HOWEVER, no individual who is using the UBER application is being forced to do so. Just as no one is obligated or FORCED to use any other type of mass transit system. People prefer their individuality….at least in THIS country. Our mass transit systems (in general) fail or lose money year over year, despite our government ‘leaders’ constantly pushing them down our throats.trying to convince us how ‘wonderful’ it is (eg , better for the planet, less cars on the road etc.) . Mass transit makes alot of people simply ‘uncomfortable’ in their surroundings. UBER allows for a one on one (in most cases) experience, ones own ‘personal chauffeur’ if you will It allows one their own personal ‘freedom’ and is less expensive than a taxi ride that offers the same one on one interaction. The downside with using a taxi service (at least in the ATL area) is that not all taxi services are allowed to go into all surrounding counties… so you can only get a ride ,potentially, ‘part way’ t your destination and then would be forced to find another service to continue your travel path Pretty inconvenient. As far as the growing trend for those individuals who utilize UBER to get a safe ride home after a night out, that’s just SMART. Perhaps the M.A.D.D organization needs to speak out in defense of UBER. Perhaps, bar establishments need to get behind UBER. Perhaps public schools and universities need to start talking to kids about the realities of drunk driving (oh but WAIT.THEY DO! ) So why not spread the word to these students that UBER is a cost saving app that can save their life and the lives of others? Being a true REALIST ,understand that KIDS DRINK. Anyone running around trying to convince themselves that kids don;t drink until they are ‘of age’ has their head buried in the sand. …. some kids are just better at hiding it than others. Plus we live in a society where parents don;t have any clue what their kids are doing most of the time. I see many instances of ‘misplaced trust’ in this arena. I’ll say one thing, our ‘government’ has done one heck of a job teaching these kids how to be ‘con artists’ . and ‘if’ they do get caught..they will go to great lengths to squirm their way out of it and place the blame on someone else. but I digress. Anyone who thinks that the ‘powers that be’ are truly interested in resolving any ‘public safety’ matter/issue are fooling themselves. Anybody who bothers to take the time to ‘pause and look around’ for a few minutes and actually ponder as to ‘what freedoms they have lost’ in the name of ‘public safety’ will quickly conclude that all that has happened is that they are now more inconvenienced than ever. As adults, if we don;t take the time to STAND UP AGAINST this crap…you’re signing your kids up for a life of slavery.You might as well just ship them over to China right now..or a similar country with that same type of government. But again I digress. It just ticks me off is all.. One culd speculate that the government is simply ‘envious’ of UBER success..and as you eluded , simply ‘wants their piece of the pie’……

    The ballot: I have seen this many times in my life. The ‘trickery’ in the wording. Cuz that is what it is. I personally had to re-read the proposed ‘change’ 5 times and was still a little confused by it . and I’m not a person of low IQ. The ‘general’ population should not be subjected to feeling as if they are having their IQ tested when going to vote on a proposed change. Put it in ‘simple to understand terminology’.you shouldn’t have to be a lawyer to comprehend the ballot proposal. A simple question as to ‘Are you in favor of having UBER drivers meet the following standards?’ would have sufficed. The way this was proposed and worded made it more like a ‘best guess’ decision. Those who voted probably walked away (if this proposal actually mattered to them) wondering if they had answered a ‘test question’ properly. My understanding is that most people were so confused by the wording of the ‘test question’ they guessed at the answer and they guessed wrong. When this happens in a school/classroom setting, the teacher ‘grades on a curve’. Trickery. This is a tactic used by the govenment to assure they get their way. I personally have learned that on most ballots asking for my ‘approval’ of any type referendum wich includes any type of ‘tax hike’ of any form, and I don’t care if they are only asking for 1/2 a penny increase.. I simply vote ‘NO’.cuz no matter how ‘glorious’ they make their cause ‘seem’. it’s just a tactic to reach into your pocket and take your money. WAKE UP PEOPLE! If you’re still trusting your govenment or any of the agencies under such.you need to pull your head out of the sand RIGHT NOW!!! . These people LOVE spending YOUR MONEY…. stop falling for their tactics. Ignore their attempts to guilt you into giving up your money.. trust me.you can spend your money better than they will.

    Now please understand I am not TOTALLY defending UBER. UBER is an ’employer’ and they offer very little to their ’employees’. no. their drivers are not ;’forced’ to work for them and it;’s probably the most flexible job a person could ever have, but all in all, they sure skimp on what they pay out to their drivers. And if they had BILLIONS of dollars to pay out for add campaigns in Austin TX in support of their ‘business’…. they could definitely afford to pay their drivers more than they do. Perhaps if UBER was forced to acknowledge the fact that they are an employer.at least where it pertains to their UBER DRIVERS.not the riders, as the riders are simply the customer, but the drivers are ’employed’ by UBER…. and UBER employs thousands of drivers … UBER, by denying they are an employer, is simply using that ‘loophole’ to get by not having to provide their ’employees’ with the benefits a typical employer is required, by law, to provide it’s employees with. And I do ,personally, take issue with that. I find that UBER is taking advantage of it’s drivers in that respect. No differently than those companies which hire illegal immigrants … illegal immigrants have no protections under our laws in the workplace….. if that isn’t ‘slavery’ I don’t know what is. But obviously no one in our govenment really truly ‘cares’ about that do they? If they did they would penalize any employer or business that knowingly hired illegal immigrants…. and I’m talking penalties that would really hurt a companies bottom line,potentially put them out of business if discovered to be engaging in such practice. And do you know what an impact that would have on ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION? If they coudn’t find jobs/employment.they wouldn’t come across the border illegally. This si the number one fact that tells me that our government is not in any way serious about stopping illegal immigration. And Sadly. the illegal migrants that come here to find work have no realization of how much they are being taken advantage of…. I guess it’s stil better than what they have left behind in their country. but maybe if it wasn’t as ‘easy’ as just coming across the border and getting. a job in America… maybe if they couldn’t get a job in America.they’d have to stay in their own country and figure out how to change things in their country for the better……. but isn’t that how it goes? So many people will just ‘run away’ from their problems….. fight or flight?… too many people are content with ‘flight’ mode…. cuz it’s easier to find someone to ‘feel sorry for you’ than to stand up and fight… What a wussy lazy society we have become. GOD SAVE AMERICA! But can HE? Howe can HE when so many would rather he just be out of the picture? Anyone out there wondering ‘what the purpose’ of this life is for? It’s a testament to the fact that we cannot do things without GOD….. that is the point of the ‘separation’… we’re supposed to come to realize that we NEED HIM.that we are not ‘ok’ without HIM. (but I digress.. it’s just something that happens…..).

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