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Posts Tagged ‘Austin’

Rideshare robocall lawsuit filed

This ought to be interesting. Ride-hailing company Uber was hit with a class-action lawsuit on Wednesday over “robo-text messages” the company has been sending Austin customers seeking their support for a controversial referendum on the ballot Saturday. The suit, filed in federal court, claims Uber violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act by sending “thousands […]

Austin Uber referendum update

There’s still a crapload of money being spent by Uber and Lyft to win this thing. In the last month, Ridesharing Works for Austin – the PAC established by transportation network companies Uber and Lyft – raised $4.9 million and spent $4.6 million promoting Prop. 1, the TNC-supported ride-hailing ordinance. With another million in the […]

Lone Star Rail reboot: It’s all about the money

Isn’t it always? The message was clear: If San Antonio-area officials aren’t willing to commit millions of dollars to planning a regional passenger rail line, Austin-area officials will reconsider their financial commitment to the project. The Capital Area and Alamo Area metropolitan planning organizations met Wednesday to discuss the status of a proposed passenger rail […]

GetMe waits in the wings

No matter what happens with the rideshare repeal referendum in Austin, there will be at least one vehicle for hire company in the capital city. Early voting is underway in Austin on Proposition 1, where residents will decide which regulations the city should adopt for vehicle-for-hire companies like Uber and Lyft. Both companies have pledged […]

More on the Uber ultimatum

Initial reaction is not terribly receptive. Ride-hailing giant Uber threatened Wednesday to stop operating in Houston unless city leaders amend local regulations the company said are making it tough for them to recruit drivers. The ultimatum, the latest skirmish in what has been a contentious relationship between Uber and the city since it started operating […]

Uber says it will leave Houston if it does not change its fingerprinting requirement

I called it. Uber announced Wednesday that the company plans to cease operations in Houston if the city council does not repeal its existing regulations relating to vehicle-for-hire companies. Houston is one of two cities in the country where Uber continues to operate despite a local requirement that its drivers undergo fingerprint-based background checks. Uber […]

Endorsement watch: Against Prop 1

The Statesman urges a vote against the divisive referendum to repeal Austin’s ordinance regulating transit network companies like Uber and Lyft. Voting against Prop. 1 is the best way to ensure that Lyft, Uber and other ride-hailing service drivers, undergo the most thorough criminal background checks endorsed by law enforcement: fingerprint checks. By contrast, Lyft […]

Early voting for May 7 elections begins today

Hey, remember that special election to fill out Mayor Turner’s unexpired term in HD139? Early voting for it – and for the other elections on the May 7 ballot – begins today. Who knew, right? Here’s the press release from the County Clerk’s office: The Early Voting Period for the May 7, 2016, Special Election […]

An outside view on Uber in Houston

The Statesman looks at how Austin’s fight with Uber and Lyft over fingerprint requirements compares with other cities in Texas, including Houston. Officials in Houston said they decided early on that their city, despite having almost 2,500 licensed taxis, could benefit from the emerging ride-hailing industry. So they approached Uber and Lyft a few years […]

Lone Star Rail: Not dead yet

Just a flesh wound, actually. The decision by Union Pacific to end its working relationship with Lone Star Rail District (LSRD) in February, was a blow in efforts to develop a passenger rail line between San Antonio and Austin. But in a special meeting Friday in San Marcos, district directors reaffirmed their commitment to find […]

Lots of money being spent on the Austin Uber/Lyft ordinance referendum

Wow. David Butts, meet Goliath. Campaign finance reports filed Thursday for Austin’s ride-hailing services election show a beyond-massive lead in money for Ridesharing Works for Austin, the Uber- and Lyft-backed political action committee supporting a proposed ordinance that would become law if Proposition 1 passes on May 7. Ridesharing Works reported that between Jan. 1 […]

Recycling officially re-upped

That new recycling agreement with Waste Management was on Council’s agenda yesterday. Here’s a reminder of what it was about. Originally, Houston was to ink a four-year deal with Waste Management, paying a $95-per-ton processing fee, a nearly 50 percent price hike. [Mayor] Turner, hoping the market would rebound quickly and strengthen the city’s negotiating […]

Supreme Court declines to intervene in Austin Uber referendum

Who knew they could do that? The Texas Supreme Court on Monday declined to order the Austin City Council to rewrite the ballot language on the proposed ride-hailing ordinance that will go before voters May 7. Austin music manager Samantha Phelps, working in conjunction with Uber, last week filed a petition for a writ of […]

Uber to abandon Corpus Christi

Another one bites the dust. In what has become a familiar move for Uber, the vehicle-for-hire company announced Wednesday it will cease operations in Corpus Christi, pointing to “unnecessary” regulations recently adopted by the city. Corpus Christi’s City Council approved new regulations this week that would require app-based vehicle-for-hire drivers to undergo a fingerprint background […]

Supreme Court asked to weigh in on Austin rideshare referendum

Of course it is. The Texas Supreme Court has been pulled into the ongoing battle between Uber and the City of Austin. An Austin resident, supported by Uber, has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the ballot language for a new measure regulating vehicle-for-hire companies within the city, scheduled to come before voters […]

Our long national breakfast taco nightmare is finally over

At long last, peace in our time. With an escalating culinary battle threatening to destabilize the region, the mayors of Austin and San Antonio met Thursday morning to announce a taco truce. “As St. Paul admonishes us, let us not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with breakfast tacos,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. “We […]

Freedom From Religion Foundation sues Abbott over Bill of Rights display

From their press release: The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit today against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over his removal of the group’s Bill of Rights display from the Capitol. Abbott downed FFRF’s solstice display, intended to counter a Christian nativity scene in the Statehouse, only three days after the permitted display had […]

Lone Star Rail setback

Bummer. Union Pacific dealt a major blow to a proposal to connect San Antonio and Austin with passenger rail by pulling one of its tracks from a possible plan. UP ended its agreement with the Lone Star Rail District to study the feasibility of running passenger trains on a freight line that parallels Interstate 35. […]

Austin will vote on rideshare ordinance revision

The month of May just got a lot more interesting. Let the people choose how to regulate Uber and Lyft, a divided Austin City Council decided late Thursday. The council, on a 2-8-1 vote, declined to adopt an ordinance underlying a petition drive that organizers said gathered more than 65,000 signatures. Under city rules about […]

TOP releases report on inefficiency of development tax subsidies

From the inbox: [Thursday], the Texas Organizing Project and the Workers Defense Project released a report on the ineffectiveness of tax subsidies in cities across Texas, and proposed ways to increase requirements for such deals in Houston to offer benefits in the form of good paying jobs with community investment for Houstonians. The report, compiled […]

Another look at AirBnB

Interesting. The hotel industry is starting to object. On Wednesday, a report funded by a national trade group claimed some Airbnb hosts function illegally and operate essentially as full-time hotels without the same health and safety oversight. It also says they can reduce the number of affordable options for full-time renters. The home-rental site has […]

Two more places that Uber won’t operate

Goodbye, Galveston. Just days after the City Council passed an ordinance designed to regulate transportation networks, Uber has shut down its service in Galveston. Monday evening, people in Galveston who tried to use the phone app to order a ride received a message that Uber is no longer available in Galveston “Due to new regulations […]

Maybe the state should regulate Uber and Lyft after all

Texas Monthly reviews the current state of affairs with transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft and their fight against mandatory fingerprinting as part of the background checks that new drivers must ondergo, all of which is playing out in Austin right now. The argument in favor of the [fingerptint] provision is simple: Lyft and […]

Petitioners may force vote to change Austin rideshare ordinance

Assuming there were no shenanigans, this is an impressive show of force. A group looking to overturn an Austin ordinance requiring fingerprinting of ride-hailing drivers said Monday it has gathered more than 65,000 petition signatures, more than three times what it will need to force a possible election on a substitute ordinance. Ridesharing Works for […]

Austin versus San Antonio on ridesharing

The Current reviews the state of play. In the spring of 2014, Lyft led the way in Austin, but the company launched without city approval and was eventually banned, along with Uber, which launched in the capital a short time later. Roughly a year ago, Austin’s city council eased its fight, allowing ride-hailing companies to […]

Maybe we just shouldn’t have nativity scenes on government property

Seems like the obvious answer to me. A “winter solstice” display by the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been ordered removed from the Texas Capitol after Gov. Greg Abbott called it a “juvenile parody.” The display had been approved by the State Preservation Board, of which Abbott is chairman, after it was sponsored by state […]

Austin passes new vehicles for hire regulations

It’ll be very interesting to see how this plays out. Defying implied threats that such a vote would chase Uber and Lyft out of town, the Austin City Council late Thursday put into city statutes mandatory fingerprint-based background checks for ride-hailing drivers. But the move will not immediately empty the streets of transportation network company […]

What people use B-Cycle for

From Rice University: A new report from Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research finds that Sun Belt city residents are most likely to use bike-share programs for recreation, compared with users in the Midwest or Northeast, who regularly use the same programs for their daily commute. The report, “Shifting Gears: Framing Bike-sharing Trends in […]

Everybody wants in on the rail action

We’re like a magical land of opportunity for high-speed rail interests. For more than three years, Japanese-backed Texas Central Partners has drawn attention with its plans to develop a Dallas-Houston bullet train. While that project is furthest along, French and Chinese rail interests are more quietly discussing the prospects for rail projects with state and […]

If you really want to improve turnout in city elections

This is a plan that would do it. Councilman Ron Nirenberg [recently] called for a major change to local elections that he says would boost voter turnout and bolster public participation. The councilman said he’s spent years considering ways to address abysmal turnout in municipal elections, which are held in May of odd-numbered years. His […]

Uber returns to San Antonio

They’re back. The ink had barely dried on the signed operating agreement when ride-hailing firm Uber restarted operations in San Antonio Tuesday, ahead of competitor Lyft, which agreed to a deal in August but has yet to implement services here. The Uber smart-phone application went live Tuesday at about 3:30 p.m., just as the company […]

Uber and Lyft versus fingerprints

They prefer to do their own background checks, which of course do not require fingerprint checks. Houston, San Antonio and Austin currently take different approaches to a key regulatory issue: whether vehicle-for-hire app drivers must undergo fingerprint background checks. The issue has proven pivotal to Uber and Lyft in Texas. Lyft refuses to operate in […]

Rep. Susan King not running for re-election

Though she may run for Senate instead. State Rep. Susan King has decided against seeking re-election as she considers a run for the Texas Senate, the Abilene Republican announced Tuesday. King said she would announce by the end of the month whether to launch a bid for Senate District 24, where Troy Fraser is stepping […]

The local minimum wage fight

Not quite on the radar here, but it could be. After years of failed proposals in the Texas Legislature to raise the minimum wage, organizers and advocates for higher hourly wages are going local. Leaders in two major Texas cities and two large counties will vote soon on raising minimum wages for public employees and, […]