The Austin Transportation Department will consider untangling the city’s franchise model of taxi companies in an attempt to “address equity” between for-hire drivers in the city. The news comes after the failure of Proposition 1 on Saturday and the exit of ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft two days later.
The proposed changes would usher in an open market system for cabs, bringing them more in line with the way ride-hailing companies operate in the city. Historically the city has capped the number of cabs in the city – keeping that number of operating vehicles at just over 900.
“A transition from the current system of managed competition to an open entry system would provide a truly competitive marketplace,” wrote Transportation Department Director Robert Spillar in a memo to the Mayor and Council members Wednesday.
Spillar noted that these changes would not affect public safety regulations, including fingerprint-based background checks which, following the failure of Prop 1, are required for all for-hire drivers in the city.
The department says it has already gathered feedback from stakeholders, and will continue these meetings through May. The department plans to bring a presentation to the full council on August 4.