In what seems like a never-ending saga between the city of Austin and transportation networking companies, the city is cracking down on another ride-sharing service.
This time, city officials said 'Arcade City' is not following ordinances.
The service came into play after Austin voted 'No' to Proposition 1, and Uber and Lyft left town. Undercover detectives performed a sting operation Friday night: including one on Nueces and 3rd Street. There, they ticketed and impounded the cars of four Arcade City drivers. Most of the drivers used to work for Uber or Lyft.
"When they left, I had no source of income, period," Cheri Hawes said. "'Arcade City' came in and thank God they did, because that was really what supplemented my income. That's how I take care of my family."
Arcade City operates without an app because riders can make requests on a Facebook page. Drivers respond and then, private message each other details like addresses and credentials.
The city of Austin says Arcade City isn't playing by the rules.
In a statement to KVUE, Marissa Monroy, Spokesperson for Austin's Transportation Department wrote:
"If a company or individual is providing a ride for compensation and that compensation exceeds the federal reimbursement rate for privately-owned vehicles, those services are subject to regulation by City Code Chapter 13-2. Companies and individuals providing transportation service and charging more than the federal reimbursement rate without appropriate documentation are illegal in the City of Austin."
The federal reimbursement rate for privately owned vehicles is 54 cent per mile. City officials said if drivers are being paid or compensated more than that, they're operating illegally.
Hawes said Friday night two guys got in her car and agreed to pay her $15 for the ride. But when she dropped them off, that's when she saw two police cars behind her.
"I was very upset," Hawes said. "I asked him 'Please do not impound my car. I'm not going to be able to pay these fines, let alone my car getting out of impound and it is my source of income'."
The officers cited her for not having a valid chauffeur's permit and for not having operating authority. Her car was also impounded.
Arcade City's founder Christopher David told KVUE he's exploring legal action against the city.
In a statement he wrote:
"The City of Austin created a mess by pushing out Uber and Lyft. Now the City is impounding the vehicles of drivers who are helping to clean up that mess. Everyone involved with this “sting” should be ashamed. "
But the city doesn't plan to stop enforcing its ordinances.
It cost $220 to get Hawes' car out of impound, and each of the citations she received cost up to $500.
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