Uber and Lyft had fought hard for more permissive rules, spending $8 million on the campaign (nearly seven times the previous record for a municipal election in the city). Without their services, they warned, drunk driving deaths would spike, 10,000 drivers would lose their jobs, and innovation in the booming tech hub would falter.
Austin dodged the dystopia. DWI arrests hit a five-year low in the six months following the vote. Former Uber and Lyft drivers signed up with the slew of services that filled the vacuum. Austin’s tech bubble continues to inflate. Yet the twin titans of the ridehailing world are on the verge of a comeback.