Voters Decided to Leave Themselves Stranded by the Side of the Road

CascadeNewLogoBy Steve Buckstein

In the month since voters in Austin, Texas upheld new city regulations on ridesharing companies like Uber, the law of unintended consequences has been confirmed.

Austin’s highly regulated taxi industry got the city to impose strict regulations on their competition, but Uber and Lyft threatened to pull out of the city rather than comply with rules they said would be bad for them and their customers. The ridesharing companies backed an initiative to repeal the regulations.

As one pundit noted, a majority of voters decided “…to leave themselves stranded by the side of the road frantically searching for a ride. Well, that’s not what they’d say they did. Strictly speaking, they voted to stick it to corporate interests—by supporting political interests who favored other corporate interests.”

The unintended consequences of that vote included about 10,000 ridesharing drivers losing their employment, bars losing business as people had fewer ways to get home safely, and disabled residents looking for new ways to get around the city.

The market responded quickly with unregulated “black market” services such as Austin Underground Ride springing up to meet demand.

Austin voters may not have realized that the only way big corporations become big in a free market is by meeting consumer demand. In this case, Uber and Lyft may become a little bit smaller, but everyone in Austin lost some of their transportation freedom.

Steve Buckstein is Founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn Post to Reddit

Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Economy, Employment, Government Regulation, Transportation | Tagged , | 3 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • thevillageidiot

    Uber and Lyft are not so big as to prevent other innovative ride share companies to start and become very successful. As Austin found out government prevents new business. It encourages the underground and black markets where it (government) has no control except to close it by force. Can you say war on drugs. The city of Austin will be as successful in shutting down ride share as states around WA and OR have in preventing marijuana from entering their state. Gotta love the free market.

  • DavidAppell

    Steve, does the Cascade Policy Institute receive any funding from Uber, Lyft, or organizations or foundations they contribute to, or that any of their executives contribute to?

    • Gardenhomeboy

      Who are your paymasters, David?

Stay Tuned...

Stay up to date with the latest political news and commentary from Oregon Catalyst through daily email updates:

Prefer another subscription option? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Twitter Facebook

No Thanks (close this box)