You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Commentary: Texas leaders should embrace ride-hailing statewide


Artists, innovators and entertainers traveling to Austin for South by Southwest may be surprised when they open up their favorite ride-hailing apps and find they aren’t an option in the city. While a handful of smaller transportation networking companies still operate here, giants Uber and Lyft do not.

Last year, Austin held a special election for a ballot initiative, supported by Uber and Lyft, that would have overturned the City Council’s mandated fingerprint background checks for TNC drivers in the city. Frustrated by the tone of the campaign — and perhaps confused by the ballot measure language — voters rejected the measure, and Uber and Lyft subsequently ceased operations in the city.

Meanwhile, Uber and Lyft are available in more than a dozen other cities around the state. The rules for ride-hailing companies and drivers vary by city, which presents several challenges for a technology that often transcends multiple jurisdictions. Dallas has different rules than Fort Worth, but people still travel all over the metro area. And consider all the other rural communities and growing cities across the state that could benefit from ride-hailing technology. You would need more than a thousand local ordinances for ride-hailing companies.

Texas needs legislation regulating TNCs at the statewide level. From a public policy perspective, it’s the best way to bring the opportunities and benefits that accompany innovative technology to more people.

When it comes to creating an environment that allows the private sector to grow and create jobs, Texas is usually at the top of the list. But of the 37 states that have a uniform law regulating how TNCs operate, Texas is not one of them – yet.

The Texas House and Senate are considering legislation that would create a legal framework for all ride-hailing services – including Uber and Lyft – to operate statewide. State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) spoke favorably of the disruptive nature of ride-hailing and its economic potential for the state, saying such services “represent an innovative mobility solution and a valuable source of employment for countless Texans.”

Ride-hailing services lower barriers to entrepreneurship while enhancing public safety. People who drive for Uber and Lyft generally do so to earn extra income as they pursue other goals or tend to other responsibilities.

At a local level, ride-hailing services help make communities safer by providing people with the opportunity for a safe ride home after a late night. Nearly a quarter of Lyft rides occur between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and 47 percent of Lyft passengers use the app during hours when public transportation has ceased. An astounding 88 percent of people ages 21 and older say Uber makes it easier to avoid driving after drinking.

Texas’ state leaders have an opportunity to embrace ride-hailing statewide. So while you’re in town for SXSW, it’s good to be aware that just down the street at the Capitol, lawmakers are working very hard to make this happen.

Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which represents more than 2,200 consumer technology companies. He is the author of “Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Commentary: House’s approval of Senate Bill 4 is step back for Texas
Commentary: House’s approval of Senate Bill 4 is step back for Texas

I am from Mission, a town right on the border that was built on the backs of immigrants. To people from Mission and border areas throughout Texas, undocumented immigrants are our family members, friends and classmates. That is why today is a sad day for the people of Mission and Texas as a whole. Senate Bill 4, the bill to eliminate sanctuary cities...
Commentary: A historian’s take on Trump’s presidency so far
Commentary: A historian’s take on Trump’s presidency so far

On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration as president, pundits predicted one of two things: either Trump would “blow up” the presidency — as he promised during his campaign and pursue a radical agenda — or he would moderate and “play by the rules,” as Republican Party leaders hoped. Trump has done neither...
Herman: Texas Legislature mulls ‘experiential dinners’ bill, aka beer
Herman: Texas Legislature mulls ‘experiential dinners’ bill, aka beer

I realize that by being an obnoxious prohibitionist (is there any other kind?) I’m probably missing out on some things in life, such as the joy of swirling a wine glass while saying things like, “flaccid, yet horny.” (Thanks to the late, great Robin Williams for that one.) And, it turns out, all law-abiding Texans (is there any other...
Opinion: Is Macron the EU’s last best hope?

For the French establishment, Sunday’s presidential election came close to a near-death experience. As the Duke of Wellington said of Waterloo, it was a “damn near-run thing.” Neither candidate of the two major parties that have ruled France since Charles De Gaulle even made it into the runoff, an astonishing repudiation of France&rsquo...
Commentary: Urge lawmakers to restore transparency in Texas government
Commentary: Urge lawmakers to restore transparency in Texas government

There’s no question that Americans — particularly Texans — are increasingly suspicious of government. Trust in government is at a dangerously low level. That’s why virtually every candidate who runs for the Texas Legislature loudly proclaims that he or she is all for transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, campaign season...
More Stories