(Generation Opportunity) More than a year ago, Uber and Lyft warned the city council of Austin that if they passed a package of burdensome fingerprinting requirements for ridesharing companies, Austinites might be left without options. The sponsor of the regulation, Ann Kitchen, issued a sharp rebuke.
“To threaten to leave, simply because we are trying to protect public safety, cannot be my deciding factor,” Kitchen shot back. “There are other transportation network companies, and they will be here.”
Now that SXSW 2017 has come and gone, the festival is retreating in the rear view mirror and the councilwoman is eating her words. When push came to shove, the vaunted alternatives to Uber and Lyft that she promised would pick up the slack simply couldn’t do the job. At the peak of the festival, Fasten and RideAustin – two apps that promised they could replace Uber and Lyft – either crashed or malfunctioned when it mattered most. The apps issued soaring prices, posted inaccurate information, and left countless riders without any options to get around. In some cases, SXSW speakers and staff were unable to meet their responsibilities for the event as a result.
“Fasten and RideAustin were granted practical access and spiritual absolution by the people of Austin because they boast about eschewing the very market forces that allow Uber and Lyft to work well, especially during a big event,” writes Mary Katherine Ham for the Federalist. “By only allowing access for ride-sharing services that act less like Uber and more like taxis, they got ride-sharing services that work less like Uber and more like taxis, whose failures are the very reason Uber and Lyft exist.”…