In a fairly remarkable move, the Austin City Council voted Thursday to assist small ride-hailing companies in the wake of the recent departure of Uber and Lyft, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The council not only voted to "identify revenue-neutral city resources and process or policy efforts," as the resolution it passed states; it also voted unanimously on first reading to approve a franchise agreement with the recently created ATX Coop Taxi.
The proposal will require two more council votes before becoming law, but it has already unsettled the three established local cab companies by removing a cap of 150 permits for the co-op, which has requested 548 permits, the Statesman reported, adding that the existing companies have 900 permits combined.
The decision took place amid part of a civic conversation about filling the gap left when the national ride-hailing companies departed Austin after a raucous election over a proposal that would have relieved those companies of fingerprinting requirements. Deregulating the local taxi industry has been a part of that discussion.