To give you a little background on why Uber and Lyft left Austin we have to go back to spring of 2016 where Austin now required fingerprint background checks much to the dismay of both companies. Apparently Uber and Lyft spent more than $8 million and bombarded voters with mailers, ads, phone calls and text messages. Oddly I live in Austin and I do not recall this huge initiative that Uber and Lyft did to sway voters.
On May 7, 2016, Austin voted 56% to 44% against Proposition 1 which would have allowed ride-hailing companies to continue using their own background check systems. Austin would now go ahead with plans to require fingerprint background checks and other regulations. Both Uber and Lyft then announced they will no longer operate in the city as a result of the loss. Uber stopped service on May 8, 2016 at 8 am. Lyft said it will also “pause operations” on Monday. To us in Austin it seemed like both companies threw a HUGE fit by leaving the city and their drivers with gusto and didn’t even look back.
This left over 1,000 drivers of Uber and Lyft in Austin without a job abruptly. Fortunately many of the drivers quickly signed up to be a driver for Fasten or Ride Austin to fill the ride hailing and sharing gap in Austin.
The heroes of this whole ordeal were Fasten, a Boston based ride hailing app and Ride Austin, a nonprofit Transportation Network Company (TNC). Per Fasten, they took on about 60% of the TNC market and also became the official South By Southwest Festival (SXSW) ride hailing app giving over 270,000 people rides during SXSW 2017.It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds now with 4 major TNCs, especially during SXSW which attracts more than 72,000 people annually. I personally plan to continue using Fasten who took over a huge task after Uber and Lyft left Austin plus I trust them more after using them for over a year.