Following hours of discussion Thursday night, the Austin City Council approved an interim ordinance to legalize transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft within city limits. The resolution passed 6-1 with Council Member Laura Morrison casting the sole vote against it.
Among the key issues debated were background checks and insurance. Members eventually determined that TNCs should conduct their own background checks and provide those results to the City Council. In regards to insurance, council members looked to Houston's model and agreed that TNCs must provide $1 million worth of commercial automobile liability insurance.
Another key issue members discussed was price caps. Though Uber's practice of price surging during peak times — which became a contentious issue during the Austin City Limits Music Festival — was scrutinized during the council session, members were unable to come to a resolution. Council Member Kathy Tovo proposed an amendment to the ordinance that would cap fares in Austin, but it was not approved.
“I’m glad that we were able to negotiate one of the strongest ordinances in the country on behalf of our constituents. Many cities across the country that have legalized TNCs have focused on the important public safety improvements, but they didn’t also secure information-sharing commitments from the TNCS to report outcomes back to the city or work to provide equivalent ADA accessible services. Today’s groundbreaking agreement will elevate the Austin TNC model as an example for other cities to follow,” said Council member Chris Riley to KXAN.
The ordinance goes into effect in 10 days and TNCs have 30 days after the starting date to review the ordinance.