One week after Austin voters rejected a ballot proposition that would have loosened ride-hailing company regulations, Uber and Lyft are still freezing service within the city and have yet to strike an agreement with City Council.
The three ride-hailing companies that continued to operate in Austin following the May 7 election—Get Me, Wingz and zTrip—are now taking on the demand of Austin’s ride-sharing network.
“[Demand] is insanely high, it’s phenomenal, it’s out of control,” Get Me co-founder Jonathan Laramy said. “[On May 10] we were the 16th-most downloaded app in iOS. I’m getting a [notification] every 30 seconds [for driver signups].”
During the May 7 election weekend, the number of drivers registered under Get Me doubled from about 2,000 to 4,000 in Austin, and signups continue to increase in Austin as well as in Get Me’s other service areas, such as Las Vegas, Laramy said.
Get Me is less than a year old and obtained its Austin transportation network company, or TNC, license in December, Laramy said. The ride-hailing platform always intended to require fingerprint-based background checks for drivers—the main objection Uber and Lyft had to city regulations—but is still working with officials and other ride-hailing companies to determine the best way to screen and process the recent influx of drivers, he said.
“We are onboarding at light speed, and we will [soon] have mass onboarding locations,” he said.
On May 12, District 5 City Council Member Ann Kitchen announced a hotline for ride-sharing drivers who were “negatively impacted by Uber and Lyft’s decision to cease operating in Austin.”
Drivers may contact United Way’s call center by calling 512-687-7441 and be referred to other driving opportunities or financial assistance agencies, according to Kitchen.
Uber and Lyft are still operating in the suburbs of Austin and in Travis County outside Austin's city limits. Drivers are able to transport passengers to or through Austin but are prevented from picking up passengers in the city, according to the companies. Uber also continues to operate UberEATS, a meal delivery service separate from its ride-sharing platform.
Both Uber and Lyft have stated they will continue to fight for ride-sharing in Austin, but as of May 13 had not come to an agreement or compromise with the city.