Ridesharing's future in Austin in doubt after Prop One fails

The future of ridesharing in Austin is in doubt after both Uber and Lyft say they will stop operating in Austin after the failure of Prop One in the May 7 special election. Lyft stopped operations at 5 a.m.  this morning and Uber did the same beginning at 8 a.m.

Both companies announced last week they would be leaving the city if Prop One failed. The measure lost by 12 points with only 44 percent of voters saying they were for it.

The failure of the measure means that voters wanted stronger oversight for the companies including fingerprints and background checks.

Without Uber and Lyft, ridesharing companies left for Austinites to choose from include Wingz and Get Me.  For its part, Get Me says it plans to follow the new regulations.

Beyond the impact on riders, thousands of drivers who rely on ridesharing as their main source of income are now out of a job.

But this doesn't mean that Uber and Lyft are gone for good. Austin Mayor Steve Adler told the Associated Press, "We're at a place right now where we welcome Uber and Lyft to stay in the community, and I hope that they'll continue to talk with me."

Uber and Lyft released statements over the weekend which also seemed to indicate a return to Austin may be possible in the future.

Chelsea Wilson from Lyft said:

Lyft and Austin are a perfect match and we want to stay in the city. Unfortunately, the rules passed by City Council don't allow true ridesharing to operate. Instead, they make it harder for part-time drivers, the heart of Lyft’s peer-to-peer model, to get on the road and harder for passengers to get a ride. Because of this, we have to take a stand for a long-term path forward that lets ridesharing continue to grow across the country, and will pause operations in Austin on Monday, May 9th.

We want to thank the incredible Lyft community for all they’ve done to keep ridesharing in their city. Thanks to each and every one of them, we took drunk drivers off the road, made it easier for residents and visitors to get around, and provided a flexible way to make ends meet. But we’re not giving up. We will continue fighting for people in Austin to have modern options like Lyft. For the tens of thousands of you who spoke up in support of ridesharing, we urge you to keep making your voices heard on this important issue.

General Manager of Uber Austin Chris Nakutis said:

Disappointment does not begin to describe how we feel about shutting down operations in Austin.

For the past two years, drivers and riders made ridesharing work in this great city. We’re incredibly grateful.

From rallies to phone banking to knocking on doors, they spread the word and their support was humbling and inspiring.

We hope the City Council will reconsider their ordinance so we can work together to make the streets of Austin a safer place for everyone.