Austin, After Driving Out Uber and Lyft, Launches Sting Operations Against Those Who Dare to Serve the Public with Rides


After residents of Austin, Texas, voted last month to not overturn an earlier set of city regulations that would hamper their ability to find the drivers they needed, ehailing ride service companies Uber and Lyft, as they vowed they would, stopped operating in the city

Arcade City Facebook

Since people can be decent and resourceful, lots of entrepreneurs leapt into the breach to give needy Austinites a lift, even at the risk of fine or arrest.

That risk has now become real. Reason reported a while back on the beginnings of Arcade City, a ride share app that used the Ethereum blockchain.

In Austin, after Uber and Lyft were driven away, they've used the far less futuristic-tech means of a Facebook page (with nearly 40,000 members) as a communal rideshare board.

And last Friday, Austin's Ground Transportation Regulation Division launched a sting, as reported by local CBS station KeyeTV. Four different drivers had their cars impounded by the city, in addition to citations for "operating without a valid operating authority and operating without a valid city chauffeur permit."

Cheri Hawes, an Arcade City driver, told the station:

She was shocked when it cost her $220 in towing fees and several citations up to $500 each. "I really thought the city was kind of behind us. It's really helped so many people. For them to really have dedicated time to this I was really surprised," said Hawes.

According to its Facebook page, Arcade City is exploring its legal options against the city for the impoundment of the vehicles. Arcade City says only one of the cited drivers is affiliated with their group.

ABC's local KVUE reports this statement from Marissa Monroy, Spokesperson for Austin's Transportation Department:

"If a company or individual is providing a ride for compensation and that compensation exceeds the federal reimbursement rate for privately-owned vehicles, those services are subject to regulation by City Code Chapter 13-2. Companies and individuals providing transportation service and charging more than the federal reimbursement rate without appropriate documentation are illegal in the City of Austin."

That "federal reimbursement rate" is 54 cent per mile. "City officials said if drivers are being paid or compensated more than that, they're operating illegally," which has led various drivers on the Facebook page to talk about making sure that the amount of money they are willing to accept, but are not demanding!, is below that amount.

Arcade City founder Christopher David tweeted tonight that "everyone involved with this sting should be ashamed" and that they are contemplating legal action against Austin.

NEXT: What Will Gun Controllers Do When Americans Ignore an 'Assault Weapons' Ban?

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  1. Keep Austin fascist, y’all!

    1. (and they can’t even make methods of transportation run more speedily)

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  2. The people who ran this sting deserve to be fed to a wood chipper, and sent to hell!

    1. Along with the scum on the city council.

      (In effigy, of course.)

  3. Silly peasants, acting like they own their lives and property and can act on their own without approval.

  4. Ah Austin, Texas’ San Francisco. Does the city smell of urine and fecal matter yet?

    1. It’s not that bad yet.

      But they advertise Austin as the Live Music Capitol, then built a hotel next to a live music venue, then started tossing out tickets for noise violations.

      I mean fuck, I remember when I was too broke to afford tickets to see George Clinton playing at Stubbs, so me and some friends just parked outside the fenceand listened to the music. I brought a cooler full of beer, so we drank a lot, and smoked a lot. Quite a few other folks had the same idea. So I traded a few Shiners for smokes. And by smokes, I totally mean tobacco, I didn’t get baked at a George Clinton concert.

      1. I need you to put your palms on the hood of the car and spread your legs…

      2. Gentrification. It’s what happens when respectable people with kids move into your trendy hipster neighborhood.

        Why can’t respectable people with kids just stay in the suburbs where they belong?

  5. Easier than drug convictions!

    1. The APD actually have a rep for being pretty OK with weed. A buddy of mine grabbed a six pack, a joint, and went to chill on Lake Travis.

      The cops ticketed him for bringing glass on the beach. They didn’t give a shit about him smoking weed, but somebody could get hurt by broken glass

  6. Written elsewhere:

    My God.

    Is there a more loathsome species of tyranny than the politician and its parasitical tendencies?

    They’re doubling down on the new economy because they want their cut like the mobsters they are. Each time I listen to these scum bags talk about ‘helping the middle class’ I seriously want to slap them in the face and ask how they can look at themselves in the mirror at night.

    Assuming, of course, zombies can see their reflection.

  7. Tell me again about how Texas is freer than CA.

    1. A top 0% marginal state income tax rate in Texas, versus a 13.3% top marginal rate in CA?

      Austin is not representative of the rest of the state … yet.

  8. ” ____________________without appropriate documentation are illegal in the City of Austin”
    Now that right there is funny no matter who you are.

    1. Immigrants from Mexico?

      1. Hahahaha, just kidding.Who’d believe that?

  9. I remember libertarians complaining about the destructive regulations on taxis and they were absolutely right. Uber/Lyft snuck around the taxi laws, showed the public how much better things could work with less rigid regulation, and mass opinion was completely won over.

    These new Austin regulations of basic fingerprinting are completely reasonable. I’m a die hard libertarian and I voted in favor of the fingerprinting regulations.

    There are other areas were there’s a strong case for loosening regulations: it’s absurd that hair stylists need elaborate certifications for example. Health care has tons of opportunities for deregulation wins.

    Fingerprinting taxi drivers is a totally reasonable regulation. Uber/Lyft are taking it too far by boycotting Austin on this.

    1. The problem is fingerprint-based checks require the potential driver to appear in person and get fingerprinted, which a lot of potential casual part-time drivers aren’t going to be willing to do. it’s a giant pain in the ass to get it done if you’re not going to be driving full time.

      The ordinance is thus designed to cut down on the number of drivers and insure that only full-time drivers bother to enter the market, which in turn is designed to make it easier to regulate them the same way as taxi drivers. If all the drivers are working full time, then it’s also easier to declare them employees instead of independent contractors. The whole point of ride-sharing apps is to allow occasional part-time drivers to make a few bucks driving from time to time. Making everyone get full-on finger printed background checks before they can casually exchange cash for a ride is going to eliminate that market.

  10. Enjoy your socialist heaven, Austinites!

  11. If they went after prostitution as much as they go after Uber drivers half the people in Austin wouldn’t get laid. But I’m sure the city councils getting a share of that too.

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