How Many People Will Die Unnecessarily In Drunk Driving Accidents Because Austin Killed Uber And Lyft?
I suspect that thousands of lives are being saved around the country in cities where Uber and Lyft are available and popular.
Think of all the husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, grandmas and grandpas, brothers and sisters, and friends, children and coworkers who are not killed or maimed in accidents caused by drunk drivers because the drunk has taken a ride-sharing service.
Well, these services are no more in Austin, Texas, and -- not unpredictably -- drunk driving incidents and arrests are up.
Brittany Hunter writes at FEE:
After the city of Austin passed new burdensome regulations on the ridesharing economy last summer, Uber and Lyft both decided to cease operating within city limits. In the several months since their departure, driving under the influence (DUI or DWI) arrests have already spiked according to the Austin Police Department's own data.
Before Uber came to town in 2014, Austin Police Department's data showed that the city had an average of 525 drunk driving arrests per month. When these numbers were revisited a year after ridesharing came to Austin, drunk driving arrests had dropped by five percent. This trend continued the following year when the number of drunk driving arrests dropped by an additional 12 percent, bringing the average number of arrests to about 438 per month.
In May of 2016, the same month Uber and Lyft made the decision to leave Austin, the monthly rate of drunk driving incidents was down to an average of 358. However, within the first few months of Uber and Lyft's absence, the number of DUI arrests increased by 7.5 percent from the previous year. In the month of July alone, the city had 476 drunk driving arrests.
Though many Austin residents, including the Tatum family, predicted these new regulations would result in increased drunk driving arrests, being correct in their assertions has given them no pleasure.
"Nobody wants that phone call. No one wants a knock on the door that says you're loved one has died from something that can be prevented," said Tatum.
...In November, Trevor Theunissen, Uber Public Affairs Lead, expressed the company's hope that it will soon be able to return to Austin. "We want to be back in Austin and I think it's a city Uber needs to be in," Theunissen expressed. "I'm hopeful that there is a path forward, but there's a lot of work to do."
There are ridesharing services taking their place, writes Patrick Sisson at Curbed, but...
Anthony Nguyen, a software consultant who lives in suburban Round Rock and drives part-time for Get Me and Wingz to earn extra income, isn't so sure. The new apps have come a long way, but they are far from perfect, and ultimately the battle will be about public opinion and convenience.
From the Curbed comments, how this worked in Chicago:
The hack politicians in Chicago's City Council in the summer of 2016 tried to pass onerous regulations on ride share. In response Uber hired a good PR company that organized community groups to sign ads against these regulations that were run in the Chicago newspapers. The regs were nothing more than anti-competitive b.s. to help traditional cab companies.
Another Curbed commenter reality-checks the claims in the article:
A few comments:
Austin shows Uber and Lyft can't use the people as a sledgehammer against politicians.
True, but it also shows Austinites -- up to and including its city council members -- are just as susceptible to "fake news" as anyone else. In this case, the "fake news" that served as the impetus for Austin's TNC ordinance revisions was the constant rumormongering (which still persists today) that many Uber drivers are serial sexual predators who use the service looking for their next victims -- mainly in the form of overintoxicated co-eds who e-hail a ride home after a night partying on Sixth Street. Mayor Adler said he had "heard reports" of this happening, as did CM Kitchen ... except those reports never actually materialized. Even a claim made in a piece on Curbed's sister site Recode -- that the Austin Police Department had received a dozen reports of TNC drivers sexually assaulting passengers -- turned out to be false.
But the people voted against Uber and Lyft here, and now there are all these new companies providing the same service, often cheaper, and employing more people.
You might want to actually talk to some of the folks driving for the various new companies before making claims of this nature, given that all three of your points are false. The service is nowhere near the same: cars take twice as long to arrive (if you're lucky), and even now -- seven months after U/L left town -- their apps routinely crash every weekend, on both the driver and passenger sides. "Often cheaper"? More like never: even after cutting prices substantially, all of the new TNCs cost more than Uber and Lyft -- some of them much more. (GetMe is roughly twice the cost.) "Employing more people"? More like 6,000 fewer.
...Meanwhile, Austin is losing out right now on Lyft Line and UberPool, their respective carpooling products that have proven to be runaway successes in other cities, particularly in the Bay Area (where they now comprise a majority of both companies' revenues). Considering the city's joke of a public transportation system, carpooling is a badly needed solution to Austin's seemingly endless traffic woes, albeit not the only solution. Also missing out is Austin's disabled community, which was previously served by UberAccess and now served by, um, no one.
Aw, how nice.