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Austin Uber Drivers Are Planning a Valentine’s Day Slowdown

On Saturday and Sunday Uber drivers in Austin are planning a slowdown to protest rate cuts the company has implemented affecting Uber drivers nationwide.

Austin Inno spoke with an Uber driver who has been helping organize the protest. He said as of Tuesday there were over 120 drivers who had agreed to participate. 80 of them have expressed interest through the forum UberPeople.net and another 40 have signed on through a grassroots campaign to reach drivers. According to the group’s Facebook page, members have been canvassing the airport to alert other drivers to their plans.

Ron, who declined to give Austin Inno his last name as he wants to keep driving for Uber, said that the drivers want to raise public awareness of the fare cuts and how they are affected.

“Our intention is not to necessarily bring the city to a grinding halt,” Ron said. “If I take a look at what I was earning 8 months ago and compared it to what I earned last month, I now work significantly more to make significantly less.”

Uber cut rates in 80 North American cities in January, including Austin and Dallas. It was the latest in a series of price cuts, with fares dropping in January 2015 and July 2015, ahead of January’s move. Later in the month, as a battle over regulation heated up in Austin’s City Council, Uber announced an increase to the minimum fare in Austin. Austin UberX riders now pay a minimum fare of $5.30. The current Uber rates in Austin are a dollar a mile and 12 cents a minute, on top of a $1 base fare and a $1.30 “safe rides fee.”

Reports of a similar Uber driver protest surfaced last week in San Francisco, where drivers were reportedly organizing a strike during the Super Bowl on Sunday. Protest plans spread as far as San Antonio, but according to Wired, driver turnout in San Francisco was less than expected.

The City of Austin has fought an at times contentious battle with Uber and Lyft in the city. While voting 9-2 to implement mandatory fingerprinting for drivers, the Austin City Council has faced significant pushback from Uber, Lyft and Ridesharing Works for Austin. The council’s regulations are subject to a revote after a petition led by Uber and Lyft garnered enough signatures to push the decision to a vote.

A spokeswoman for Uber Austin declined comment.

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