Uber and Lyft to Plan Return to Austin Very Soon

May 18, 2017

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Update 5/25/17: The Texas Tribune reports that Uber and Lyft will start operating in Austin on Monday — the same day that the Texas governor is expected to sign the new legislation into law.

Uber’s app is reporting the same to users in Austin:

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Great news for visitors to — and residents of — Texas’ capital city: Uber and Lyft both plan to come back “as soon as the governor signs” a new Texas legislative bill.

Yesterday, the Texas Senate voted on a bill setting statewide regulations on rideshare companies. This bill sets new rules, overriding local restrictions like ones in Austin that Uber and Lyft decided to shut down over rather than comply with.

The legislative bill passed with a two-thirds margin, meaning that the bill will go into effect immediately after the governor signs the bill — which he’s expected to do very soon.

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However, it’s unclear how Austin drivers will welcome back Uber and Lyft. Both companies bailed overnight in May 2016 after losing a vote of Austin residents. The rideshare companies had poured $10.3 million into a political action committee to force a popular vote to overturn the Austin City Council’s new rules requiring fingerprint-based background checks.

Two days after being soundly defeated at the polls, Uber/Lyft suddenly pulled out of Austin — despite the new rules not going into effect for months. The immediate departure left 10,000 drivers without work and many more Austin residents and visitors without rides.

Since then, nearly a dozen companies flooded the market to fill the gap. Now, it’s unclear how local riders and drivers alike will treat Uber’s return. Will drivers stick with companies that only take $1 per ride and allow passengers to tip in-app — or will Uber and Lyft inevitably win back these drivers? Do resident riders still have a bitter taste in their mouth after Uber/Lyft’s PAC’s aggressive techniques during the campaign last year?

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One thing is for sure: Austin residents with The Platinum Card from American Express should be especially excited for the return of Uber. Due to how Amex allots the $200 per year in Uber credits month-by-month, residents are now able to use the monthly credits without having to travel out of the city.

No word yet on whether Uber will expand UberFEET to Austin when it relaunches.

H/T: KXAN

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