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Rideshare, Better Taxi Service On Austin City Council Agenda Thursday

Updated: Thursday, May 15 2014, 08:33 AM CDT
On Thursday city leaders could go a step further to push for even more options for people to get around downtown and get home safely. More than 18,000 people have signed the Uber petition demanding ridesharing be allowed in Austin.  Many more are hoping it will cut down on drunk driving.

On Thursday, Austin City Council could vote on looking into creating a ridesharing pilot program over the next 90 days. Ridesharing is essentially where people use an app on their phone to get a ride and pay the driver. Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio already have it, along with dozens of other cities across the U.S. and the world. Austin banned Sidecar, another rideshare app in 2013, calling it an unlicensed taxi service. Sidecar, Uber, and Lyft all say their drivers carry insurance and go through background checks.

On Thursday City Council is also looking to tackle the taxi shortage in Austin and get people where they need to go faster and safer. The city’s cab shortage is something even the police chief has singled out after recent traffic deaths involving suspected drunk drivers.

There are tens of thousands of people downtown some nights and only a little over 700 cabs in Austin. The city’s new goal: 90% of the people who call a cab should be able to get one in 15 minutes. Some options they’re looking at to achieve that: more permits, a universal dispatch system instead of each franchise doing their own, helping drivers find rides by allowing more 3rd party apps, and requiring the closest driver to pick up a passenger.

If City Council OKs the ordinance, the city manager would need to to come back with a plan in the next 120 days.Rideshare, Better Taxi Service On Austin City Council Agenda Thursday

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