Austin Transportation Department Wants to Deregulate Taxis

May 11, 2016

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."

“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. 

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