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City Reconsiders Ban on Ride-Sharing Apps

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.

“It’s kind of a pain because you are limited on the amount of groceries you can take,” Sheehan said. “It’s kind of whatever you can carry in your arms and backpack. In a car, it says it takes eight minutes to get there ... on a bus it takes us 30, so not so great.”

Jackson and many others are searching for more reasonable transportation options.

Ridesharing programs like SideCar allow those wanting a ride to use a phone app to find someone who is offering a ride for a small fee. The apps are becoming more and more popular across the country.

But the city of Austin tried to stop these apps, saying they resemble taxicab services and must follow city taxi regulations.

On Thursday, City Council members will review an ordinance that says ride-sharing programs are not taxis.

Jackson says until more transportation options are available, Austin traffic will live up to its reputation.

“Traffic is pretty terrible,” he said. “It’s slow ... hot ... awful.”

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