Austin City Council voted 8 – 2 to reject a ridesharing initiative supported by over 65,000 citizens. The initiative is now scheduled for a public vote on May 7th.
The vote is a slap in the face to local organizations Austin Music People, ATX Safer Streets and The Old Austin Neighborhood Association who spearheaded opposition to a hostile ordinance passed in December that would chase ridesharing services out of town.
The December ordinance requires all ridesharing drivers to submit fingerprint background checks to the FBI and carry a company logo on their personal vehicles. It also imposes a one percent revenue tax on ridesharing services and an additional one percent revenue tax if they fail to meet certain safety standards. Uber and Lyft said these rules are inhospitable and plan to leave the city if they are enacted.
Not wanting to lose a coveted means of transportation, petitioners gathered well over the required 20,000 signatures to demand city council consider their initiative. The petitioner’s ordinance prohibits fingerprinting drivers, limits fees to one percent and does not require drivers to put company logos on their personal vehicles.
Austin City Council’s rejection of the grassroots petition now puts the ordinance to a city wide vote on May 7th. The city will redirect $800,000 worth of taxpayer dollars away from other funds to cover the cost of the special election.