Since Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing companies have moved into Houston, there's been a move to deregulate taxi and cab fees. Now, Austin has done it.
Houston City Councilman At-Large Position 3 Michael Kubosh said setting taxi drivers' rates puts drivers at a big disadvantage.
“They’re trying to figure out how to survive and how to compete with the Uber and the Lyft, and the other TNCs that are in the Houston area,” said Kubosh.
Despite losing money, Kubosh said there's no talks of deregulation taxi cab fees in Houston.
“The city of Houston was bringing in millions of dollars in fees from the cab industry every year and since Uber and Lyft has come in, they’re starting to dry up pretty big time,” said Kubosh.
Taxi Club of Greater Houston principal partner Raymond Martin said deregulation is good for the industry, city and riders.
“Anything that we can do to increase or open up our market to make things better for both the consumer as well as business owners would be beneficial,” said Martin. “And, help keep Houston, and Texas in general, just on that cutting edge to grow our economy and make things better for businesses.”
Martin said he wishes Houston would allow taxis to set their own rates because it would help people who can't afford taxis, increase ridership and be competitive with Uber and Lyft.
<PSI_END_OBJECT>Kubosh said taxis provide wheelchair access for people in need; taxi drivers have been vetted, licensed and screened; and riders know the fees --no surge pricing, although that option is available to do them, if they want it.
The new Austin ordinance requires taxi franchises to notify the Austin Transportation Department before any fare changes, as well as post their fares on their Web sites and prominently display them in each cab. TNCs don't have to give any surge notice to any government.
Austin's new ordinance should go into effect later this month.