Downtown Austin Streets Are Safer With Uber & Lyft

Downtown Austin Streets Are Safer With Uber & Lyft

Update: 10/16/2014: The TNC Ordinance passed Council with a 6-1 Vote.  Council member Chris Riley’s press release HERE.

We celebrated Amber’s birthday this past weekend with friends and family hanging out with us at the Shore condos, and later crawling Rainey Street.  Everyone had a great time… and plenty to drink.

As we wrapped up the evening I observed 6-7 people use Uber to get themselves home safely.

I was struck by how effortless ride sharing is, and that it effectively keeps a percentage of drunk drivers off the streets of Austin.  Remarkable.

I think back to just last year, when getting a cab was a non-trivial event.  I’ve always been frustrated with taxis in Austin.  They are notoriously difficult to locate, arrive late, or didn’t arrive at all.  The result is that people would make the poor decision to just drive themselves after having a night on the town.

In cities where ride sharing is embraced, I fully expect to see data showing a drop in the number of DWIs.

Austin leadership should pay attention, and we’ll be watching as this topic goes before Austin City Council on the 25th.



About Jude Galligan

Jude Galligan, REALTOR, Principal of TOWERS Realty and publisher of Downtown Austin Blog (aka. "DAB"), spends his time matching remarkable people with remarkable properties in Austin’s urban core. A resident owner in downtown Austin, Jude has served on the Board of the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) and the City of Austin Downtown Commission. Contact Jude.


  1. They are operating illegally. Plain and simple. Openly violating city ordinances and boasting while they do it. And we are to believe that once an ordinance they “like” (for now) is passed they will somehow become law abiding service providers? How laughable. I read the driver forums, and read the disdain so many show for their customers, especially drunks, and they steer clear of the poor sections. They also manipulate the zones to spur the surges. And – if a passenger does not tip? They give them low ranks. Why? because they are ANGRY because so many have been lied to and those in cities where it has existed for more than a year are slowly realizing this. Many of these drivers are so programmed to share everything on line, they don’t even realize how much info they leak. If I were not so angry about their cheating our employees, I would feel sorry for them for being hoodwinked. The sad thing: Next in the b.s. serving line: Military Vets. Oh yes – lease that 70+K vehicle from us, soldier. Thank you for your service. Trust us, you will be a successful entrepreneur, running miles up on a premium vehicle, especially those $5 runs. But maybe you will get lucky and get some surge prices until your city gets tired of being screwed…then you will go back to those $5 runs. Again, thank you for your service and good luck keeping up with that lease.

    By the way, this beloved “progressive” city council continued to reject black car operators pleas to remove the $55/min and 30 minute reservation request. We told them quicker response was needed, based on our market feedback. For at least THREE YEARS we have asked for removal of these restrictions, along with the mandatory stretch limousine requirement. Again – deaf ears. Now we know why: they have been in cahoots with these tech companies all along.

    There is absolutely NO difference in definition (Austin code 13-2) between what UberX is doing and what black car services do, and there should be no “special” provision. Lift them ALL, or apply them all. PERIOD!!!

    13-2-1 DEFINITIONS

    (11) GROUND TRANSPORTATION SERVICE means the service of providing chauffeured vehicles for compensation for the transportation of passengers within the city.

    (12) GROUND TRANSPORTATION SERVICE VEHICLE means a chauffeured vehicle used to transport passengers on City streets for compensation.

    (15) OPERATING AUTHORITY means the written authority granted by the City to provide a ground transportation service other than a taxicab service.

    Limousine service consists of prearranged service that is operated on irregular routes and schedules.

  2. If you think legalization or more drivers will prevent gouging, keep dreaming.

  3. Uber’s algorithm enacts Surge Pricing when the number of drivers cannot keep up with the demand for rides. I will agree, even as an Uber driver myself, that 10x is excessive. Internally, me and other drivers have expressed how we feel bad when we pick up clients and pricing is that high because we feel it’s excessive. However, we have no control on pricing; that’s all on Uber.

    Still, I use Uber myself to get around and is a great service that is badly needed in Austin. Cab companies are difficult to deal with, have terrible customer service, and generally are a hassle to put up with. Uber and Lyft are the perfect alternatives.

    • Good points. I have no idea what our friends paid to use Uber at 2am. I imagine that 12-2am on weekends is likely to result in surge pricing. Do you see competition (new ride share tech) eventually reducing surge pricing?

      Whatever the price, lots of people are ready, willing, and able to pay for it. In doing so, they’ve made the streets just a bit safer.

      • Yes, I do see competition removing the surge. Then drivers will drop out because no one is going to haul drunks for minimum wage. And if you think the cab service sucks now, wait until Uber gets their way and totally breaks the industry. By then, mark my words, Uber will pushing for special regulations which protect their company. Again – mark my words – spoken here, Sept 22, 2014. Remember, Kalanick was accusing Lyft & Sidecar of being gypsy operators, not too long ago.

  4. We tried to use uber Saturday night around 2am bar closing time. They had enacted 10x surge pricing, which would have meant about $100 to get 2 miles. Luckily ran into a friend to give us a ride. Great concept. Not so great when they turn into gouging mode. 2nd time I’ve run across the 10x surge pricing. Last time was a little more understandable because it was the crazy rain storm that started at like 12:30am.

    • There simply aren’t enough Uber drivers in Austin yet. I would expect that this situation should get better once the city council actually approves ridesharing.

      • It is not “ridesharing”, it is commercial vehicle service – cars for hire. Ride Sharing is when a driver and passenger are headed in the same direction and SHARE the RIDE, reducing traffic, saving money.

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